Szabo kicks past 1,500 field

Drug cloud continues to hang over track championships

Posted: Wednesday, August 08, 2001

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Gabriela Szabo didn't have to worry about Olga Yegorova on Tuesday night.

The Romanian unleashed her characteristic powerful kick and won the women's 1,500 meters at the World Championships.

Szabo is also entered in the 5,000, but has said she would not run if Russia's Yegorova was permitted to compete after testing positive for a banned substance on a urine test. Yegorova was suspended from the championships but was then reinstated because IAAF rules require a blood sample and none was taken.

Szabo has not yet indicated her final intentions for the 5,000 since the IAAF gave Yegorova permission to run. She said earlier that it would be unfair to make her run against a competitor whose performance was enhanced by drugs.

''I want to sleep all night and make the decision tomorrow,'' Szabo said after the 1,500.

Szabo's agent, Jos Hermens, said, ''I'd like to see her racing. Why give medals away to admonish people and two weeks later nobody knows she didn't run? But I will respect any decision she makes.''

Meanwhile, IAAF anti-doping chief Arne Lgungqvist said drug tests of up to 10 athletes at the championships indicated the possible use of a banned hormone. Lgungqvist said initial tests showed elevated levels of red blood cells -- which can signal the use of the endurance-boosting hormone EPO but also can occur naturally.

Those athletes -- including Yegorova -- will now have urine tests to check for EPO.

The 1,500 was just to Szabo's liking, and she wasn't about to give that medal away.

She let Russia's Natalya Gorelova set most of the pace before sweeping into the lead with less than 150 meters remaining. Then, Szabo pulled away from the field and won by about eight meters in 4 minutes, 00.57 seconds, leading a 1-2 Romanian finish.

Violeta Szekely was runner-up in 4:01.70, and Gorelova was third in 4:02.40.

Szabo's victory came as a Canadian sprinter competing at the championships was suspended after testing positive for the drug that cost Ben Johnson his gold medal at the 1998 Olympics.

Athletics Canada said that Venolyn Clarke, the Canadian women's 100-meter champion, had traces of the anabolic steroid stanozolol in her system when she was tested during a pre-meet camp session at Calgary last Friday.

Stanozolol is the same drug that cost Johnson, also of Canada, his gold medal and world record in the men's 100 at the 1988 Olympics.

Clarke had been expected to run on the Canadian women's 400-meter relay team. She was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 100 after finishing eighth in her heat.

In an unrelated case, 800-meter runner Fabiane dos Santos of Brazil was kicked out of the championships after being suspended by the Brazilian Athletics Federation because tests at a May meet in Rio de Janeiro showed her testosterone level was too high, the IAAF said.

In other finals Tuesday, Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic won his third straight world title in the decathlon with 8,902 points; Fiona May of Italy took the women's long jump at 23 feet, 1/2 inch; and Andre Bucher of Switzerland won the men's 800 in 1:43.70.

Also, Amy Thiam, the first Senegalese woman to reach a final at the championships, became the country's first medalist -- male or female -- by winning the women's 400 with a national record 49.86; Derartu Tulu led a 1-2-3 Ethiopian finish in the women's 10,000, winning in 31:48.81; and Yipsi Moreno of Cuba won the women's hammer throw at 231-9.

Dvorak trailed Britain's Dean Macey by one point starting the second day of competition but pulled away by posting the fastest time in the 110 hurdles, 13.80. Olympic champion Erki Nool of Estonia finished second with 8,815 points and Macey was third with 8,603.

May, the 1995 world champion, had threatened to retire after the title was given to Spain's Niurka Montalvo in 1999 on a controversial call. May claimed Montalvo's jump was a foul.

This time, May regained the title by one-half inch over Tatyana Kotova of Russia.

In the 800, Bucher remained unbeaten this season, and finally got his first gold medal in a major championship after five silvers.

Thiam rallied in the final 50 meters to win the 400, beating Lorraine Fenton of Jamaica by .02 seconds.

Tulu, a two-time Olympic champion, outdueled teammate Berhane Adere down the stretch, outleaning her at the tape. Adere was timed at 31:48.85, and Gete Wami gave Ethiopia the sweep by edging Britain's Paula Radcliffe for third.

Even without defending champion Maurice Greene, the United States' chances for a medal in the 200 meters were enhanced with two major dropouts Tuesday.

Frankie Fredericks of Namibia, the 1993 world champion and a three-time silver medalist, failed to show up for his first-round heat. Then Dwain Chambers of Britain, considered a strong contender, strained his right hamstring during his heat and withdrew.

They went to the sidelines to join Greene, who strained his left thigh in winning his third straight 100-meter title, and 1997 champion Ato Boldon of Trinidad & Tobago, who complained of back pain after finishing fourth in the 100.

In the men's 200, two of the three Americans got through to the semifinals.

Kevin Little, the 1995 world indoor champion, won his quarterfinal heat in 20.34, and Shawn Crawford, the 2001 world indoor champion, finished second in his heat in 20.19 to Britain's Christian Malcolm (20.13).

The third American, Ramon Clay, pulled up with about 50 meters remaining in his heat.



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