IAAF Could Suspend Sotomayor Before Championship!

IAAF Could Suspend Sotomayor Before Championship!
Posted by FoM on August 10, 1999 at 10:21:37 PT
Stephen Wilson, AP Sports Writer
Source: SF Gate
 Javier Sotomayor hasn't given up hope of defending his high jump title at the World Championships in Spain this month. 
Sotomayor, who tested positive for cocaine at the Pan American Games, faces a possible two-year ban. No suspension has yet been imposed, and his status for the World Championships remains uncertain. Giorgio Reineri, spokesman for the International Amateur Athletic Federation, said it is up to the Cuban track federation to hold a hearing with the two-time world champion and world record-holder and decide whether or not to suspend him. Track and field's world governing body said Monday that it could ban Sotomayor from the Aug. 20-29 championships in Seville, Spain, if Cuban officials don't take any action by then. ``If they don't act, if they don't suspend the athlete, the IAAF can suspend him,'' Reineri said from Monaco. Cuba has charged Sotomayor's positive test was part of a larger campaign to discredit the Communist government -- possibly by the CIA or Miami exiles. It has suggested that the track star's food or drink might have been laced with cocaine. The Cuban government also raised doubts about tests that showed two gold medalist weightlifters -- William Vargas, winner in the 136.4-pound weightlifting class, and Rolando Delgado, the 152-pound class winner -- testing positive for anabolic steroids. In the case of the weightlifters, the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation said Cuban sports authorities will launch an investigation ``aimed at clarifying whether this is another dirty trick against our country or if this anabolic substance really exists in the bodies of said athletes.'' The institute said that Cuban sports doctors never use anabolic steroids for athletes. ``In capitalist societies they are commonly used in professional sports and are distributed without any limitation,'' the statement added. Reineri said the IAAF Council, the world federation's decision-making body, could suspend Sotomayor at its meeting in Seville next Monday. One of the council members is former Olympic 800-meter champion Alberto Juantorena, head of the Cuban athletics federation. The case gets more complicated if the Cubans hold a hearing and decide to clear Sotomayor. In that event, the IAAF could be forced to let him compete in Seville pending its own review of the case. ``At that point, the IAAF can do nothing in the short term,'' Reineri said. ``The only thing the IAAF can do is review the case later and maybe decide to go to arbitration. That takes time.'' In that case, any suspension would be retroactive, meaning that Sotomayor would be stripped of any medal he won in Seville. Such a situation occurred at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when the IAAF allowed Australian sprinter Dean Capobianco and Italian high jumper Antonella Bevilacqua to compete after their national federations cleared them of doping violations. The two athletes were later found guilty and suspended by an IAAF arbitration panel. Their results from Atlanta, including Bevilacqua's fourth-place finish, were wiped off the books. ``This is a very political case,'' Reineri said. ``It's not a normal doping case. There are different sensibilities at stake.'' In an interview Monday in the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, Sotomayor continued to proclaim his innocence. ``The tests can be manipulated,'' he was quoted as saying from his home in Havana. ``Do you think I would need to take drugs, to dope myself to jump 2.30 meters? In warmups, I was jumping 2.25. Anyway, it would be crazy to dope myself at the Pan American Games.'' Sotomayor said he was continuing to train daily and would travel to Madrid on Aug. 14 to await word on whether he can compete in Seville. ``Apart from the death of my coach Jose Godoy, the positive test is the worst thing that has ever happened to me,'' he said in a separate interview in the French daily L'Equipe. ``I have the impression that the sky fell on me.'' (08-10) 01:35 EDT LONDON (AP) Sotomayor Fails Drug Test - August 5, 1999
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