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Masback defends legal process
SYDNEY, Australia -- The head of USA Track & Field has rejected calls by the White House drug czar to name the American athletes who have failed drug tests. Barry McCaffrey, the White House drug policy director, sent a letter Monday to USATF executive director Craig Masback urging him to make a full, public accounting of positive test results. In his reply Wednesday, Masback said he agreed transparency was needed to bolster the credibility of drug testing programs. But he said USATF had to stick to the rules. "American law, USOC arbitration precedent and our own rules require that we treat athletes as innocent until proven guilty and that we maintain the confidentiality of our process," he said. USATAF has come under fire in Sydney for allegedly covering up doping cases. Arne Ljungqvist, the drug chief of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, accused the American body of suppressing 12 to 15 cases. Confirmation Tuesday that American shot putter C.J. Hunter, husband of sprint star Marion Jones, failed four separate drug tests this summer only increased suspicions. "It is our view that the most appropriate way to respond to allegations of impropriety -- in particular accusations of complicity in doping -- is to let the fact speak for themselves," McCaffrey said in his letter to Masback. Masback told McCaffrey there were a "small number" of drug cases still under review. The majority of cases involve substances for which athletes had medical waivers, including for asthma, Masback said. Others involve positive tests for cold-medicine products, which would result only in a warning. "The remaining cases will be adjudicated under our system as soon as we are provided with the necessary documentation and laboratory analysis by the IOC laboratories, the IAAF or the USOC," Masback said. USATF has "tested more athletes, for more substances, for a longer period of time than any other sports organization," he said. "We have disciplined those who have broken the rules." In an interview, Masback denied any coverups and insisted USATF was bound by legal rules that are different from those in the rest of the world. "If that is enough to cast aspersions on me personally and our sport, we have to live it," he said. "But we are not going to publicly shame athletes after an `A' test. In the last two years, we've had five `B' tests that have not confirmed the `A' test." Athletes' urine samples are divided into two samples for testing. The "B" sample is used as a backup if the first turns up positive. Masback said USATF was not to blame for delays in notification of positive tests. "It's not reasonable to be suspicious of coverups because of time lags," he said. "Sometimes labs don't report results for up to eight weeks. There have been cases where it took a year. "We're not delaying or covering up a process. We're simply doing what the process requires."
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