U.S. sprinter Torri Edwards was found guilty of using a banned
stimulant but may be able to avoid a suspension -- and keep her spot
in the Olympics -- because of "exceptional circumstances."
A three-member arbitration panel, which heard Edwards' case last
week, determined that "exceptional circumstances" may exist in
her case, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced Friday.
The arbitrators referred the case to a doping review board of
the International Association of Athletics Federations, which will
decide whether to impose a suspension of up to two years.
IAAF spokesman Nick Davies could not be reached for comment
Friday on a time frame for a decision in the Edwards case, but
USADA officials said they expect a decision before next month's
Athens Olympics, where Edwards is expected to contend for a medal
in the 100 and 200 meters.
"I am relieved that this phase has been completed," Edwards
said in a statement posted on the Web site of her track club,
HSInternational. "I have faith that the IAAF panel will review my
case fairly and with an unprejudiced mind."
Edwards, an outspoken supporter of U.S. anti-drug efforts in
track and field, blamed her positive test on a glucose supplement
and said she did not know it contained the stimulant nikethamide.
She flunked the drug test at a meet in Fort-de-France,
Martinique, on April 24. Her physician bought the glucose at a
store there, Edwards said.
Edwards finished second in the 100 and third in the 200 at the
U.S. Olympic trials earlier this month.
If she is suspended and forced to miss the Athens Olympics,
LaShaunte'a Moore would take the third place in the 200 and Gail
Devers, the fourth-place finisher in the 100, would be entitled to
a spot in that event. But if Devers decides to focus on the
100-meter hurdles, in which she is the U.S. champion, that place in
the 100 would go to fifth-place finisher Marion Jones -- the
defending Olympic champion who is under investigation by USADA but
has not been formally charged.