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Stimulant finding could halt Olympic bid

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sprinter Torri Edwards, an outspoken supporter of U.S. anti-drug efforts in track and field, is the latest athlete to face a possible suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.

In an interview on Thursday with representatives of six news
organizations, including The Associated Press, Edwards attributed
the positive test on a glucose supplement that, unbeknownst to her,
contained the stimulant as an additive.

She said she took the glucose because she wasn't feeling well.

Edwards earned an Olympic berth with a second-place finish in the women's 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials,
but could be bounced from the team.

The reigning world champion at 100 meters, Edwards tested
positive for the stimulant nikethamide at a meet in Fort-de-France,
Martinique, on April 24, the International Amateur Athletics
Federation announced Thursday.

"I've never taken any performance-enhancing drugs. I never
will. Never had a need for it," she said. "It's been five long,
hard years for me to get to the point where I am today and I would
not do anything like this to jeopardize what I've earned over the
years."

Edwards' case will be heard Monday by a U.S. arbitration panel in Orange County. Under the World Anti-Doping Agency code, she would face a 2-year ban unless she can persuade the panel that
there were sufficient mitigating circumstances to warrant only a
warning, said WADA spokesman Frederic Donze.

If the panel rules against her, Edwards said, she would take her case to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport. The CAS
finding would be binding.

She said she has been running for two months knowing that she could be banned from the Olympics.

"It would be horrible," she said, her voice breaking with
emotion. "I've worked so hard to get to this point and I don't
know what I would do if I had to sit out the Olympics."

The glucose was supplied to her by Dr. Christopher Vincent, who purchased it a local store, Edwards said, adding the container and remainder of the glucose has been presented as evidence in her
case.

The substance known as "Coramine Glucose" is sold only in
Vietnam and parts of France, according to a statement released by
Edwards' agent, Emanuel Hudson.

The 27-year-old Edwards said it was about three weeks after the Martinique meet that she received word of the positive test in a
phone call. That was the same day she was told she had been awarded
the 100 world title because of Kelli White's drug suspension.

Edwards and Lewis said there was no need for her to use any
performance-enhancing drugs at Martinique because there were no top runners in the race, she had already received an appearance fee and
there was no prize money at stake. She said she felt obligated to
run because she was the promotional attraction for the meet and
took glucose after the first round of the 100.

Vincent, a British chiropractor, found the glucose at a local
store, Edwards said. She said that neither coramine nor nikethamide
were on the wallet cards of banned substances both she and Vincent
carried.

Edwards said she has severed her ties with Vincent because of
his part in the incident, but that he would testify on her behalf
at the hearing.

"At first I was really angry," she said. "I know that he
didn't do this on purpose, yet still there was a mistake made and I
may have to pay for it by sitting out for two years. It's hard for
me to overcome that. I mean, I think I've come to the point where I
can forgive him, but it's still a difficult situation."

White has been suspended from competition for two years after admitting using steroids and several other banned substances.

Edwards also moved from third to second in the world 200 finish because White lost her gold medal in that event, too.

If Edwards is removed from the Olympic team, it would move Gail Devers into the third spot in the 100 and onto the U.S. team.
Marion Jones would move to fourth place, one spot short of making
the U.S. team in the event.

The sport in the United States already had been rocked by doping accusations against six athletes. The USOC has vowed to take a "clean" team to the Athens Olympics.

Four of the athletes, including 100 world record-holder Tim
Montgomery, face lifetime bans after USADA accused them of doping violations, even though none has tested positive. The accusations stem from evidence gathered in the criminal probe of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative of Burlingame, Calif. Two other athletes are competing in the trials despite positive drug tests because their cases have not been resolved.

"I was really hesitant coming forward with this on my own just because of all the BALCO stuff that's been going on," Edwards
said. "I didn't want to be grouped with that because this
situation is nothing like that. I wanted people to know that. I
feel horrible that I've added to it in some way. I've always
promoted a clean sport."

Edwards, who finished second to LaTasha Colander in the 100 final last Saturday, is scheduled to run the 200, with
preliminaries beginning Friday.

"Now I go and get ready for the 200," she said, "and then get
ready for my hearing on Monday -- and get prepared for a fight."