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Edwards could be kicked off Olympic team

GIORGIOUPOLI, Greece -- Barring a successful appeal,
sprinter Torri Edwards will be suspended for at least two years for
taking a banned stimulant, knocking her out of the Olympics and
perhaps giving Marion Jones a chance to defend her gold medal in
the 100 meters.

A review panel concluded there were no exceptional circumstances
that would warrant a lesser penalty, Travis Tygart, director of
legal affairs for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, told The Associated
Press on Saturday.

"The rule says it's a minimum of two years," Tygart said.

The finding by the panel of the International Association of
Athletics Federations has been forwarded to the U.S. arbitration
panel that initially heard Edwards' case. That panel will determine
Edwards' penalty but has no authority to make it less than a
two-year ban, Tygart said.

The American Arbitration Association panel had found that there
may be exceptional circumstances in Edwards' case, but the IAAF
board disagreed.

The panel's official finding is expected next week. Edwards can
appeal to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose
ruling would be binding.

Edwards' lawyer, Emanuel Hudson, did not return several phone
calls to his office, but he told The New York Times that Edwards
was "very saddened and disappointed" by the ruling. She said
during the U.S. Olympic trials in July that she would appeal any
suspension as far as she could.

The world champion in the 100, Edwards tested positive at a meet
in Martinique in April, but she blamed a glucose supplement, saying
she was unaware it contained the stimulant nikethamide. She said
her physician bought the glucose at a store there because she
wasn't feeling well.

She had argued there was no reason to cheat at the meet because
there was no prize money and the field was weak. She said she felt
compelled to run because she was paid a substantial appearance fee
and was the meet's leading attraction.

Edwards was expected to contend for medals in the 100 and 200 in
Athens. Her absence could give Jones a chance to defend her gold
medal in the 100 because it would free up a spot in the event.

Gail Devers, the fourth-place finisher in the 100 at the trials,
would be entitled to Edwards' spot. But the 37-year-old Devers, in
her fifth Olympics, could decide to focus on the 100-meter hurdles,
an event she has dominated for the last decade, except at the
Olympics.

If she does run in the 100 and hurdles, Devers would face the
possibility of six races, counting the qualifying heats, in the
first five days of the Olympic track competition. Besides, she
already is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 100.

If Devers withdraws from the 100, the next in line would be
Jones, who was fifth in the trials and qualified for the U.S. team
only in the long jump. Jones has been training for the 100 during
her work at the relay camp in Munich, Germany, this week.

Edwards would be the second U.S. sprinter thrown off the Olympic
team this month because of a drug suspension. Calvin Harrison, part
of the U.S. relay pool, was suspended Monday for two years for a
second doping violation.

Edwards became the world 100-meter champion when Kelli White was
stripped of the medal after acknowledging she had used steroids and
other performance-enhancing drugs. White was banned for two years.