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British Baxter May Lose Olympic Bronze


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London, England March 5, 2002 (AP by Stephan Wilson)–Alain Baxter, the first Briton to win an Olympic skiing medal, failed a drug test at the Salt Lake City Games and risks being stripped of his bronze medal in the slalom.

The British Olympic Association said Tuesday that Baxter tested positive for the banned stimulant methamphetamine after his surprise third-place finish on Feb. 23.

The International Olympic Committee said Friday it was investigating two more positive tests from the final weekend of the games, one for methamphetamine and one for the steroid nandrolone. It declined to identify the athletes or sports involved, pending a hearing.

The BOA said it was notified by the IOC late Friday that one of its athletes had produced a positive sample for the stimulant, which is commonly known as “speed.”

In a statement released on his behalf by the BOA, Baxter said he was “devastated” by the news and would fight to clear his name.

“I have never knowingly taken any medicine or substance to improve my performance and as such believe that I am entirely innocent,” the 28-year-old Scottish skier said. “I am now working with lawyers and medical experts to present my case to the IOC’s Inquiry Commission (and the IOC’s Disciplinary Commission), which I am advised is unlikely to convene until next week, with a view to defending myself successfully against the charges of doping.”

Baxter has been celebrated as a national hero since his performance at the Olympics. He received a rousing welcome when he returned to his hometown of Aviemore last Wednesday.

Baxter was eighth after the first slalom run but posted a strong second run and held on for the bronze when a number of bigger-name contenders fell. French skiers Jean-Pierre Vidal and Sebastien Amiez took gold and silver.

Baxter’s bronze was the first time in the 78-year history of the Winter Games that Britain had won a medal on anything other than ice.

His performance helped Britain register its most successful Winter Olympics in 66 years, with one gold and two bronze medals. The women’s curling team–all Scots–won gold, while Alex Coomber took third in women’s skeleton.

If Baxter is found guilty of a doping offense by the IOC, he would be disqualified and forfeit his medal. Fourth-place finisher Benjamin Raich of Austria stands to get the bronze if Baxter loses the medal.

Three confirmed positive cases were recorded during the Salt Lake City Games. All involved cross-country skiing medalists who tested positive for darbepoetin, which boosts production of oxygen-rich red blood cells.

Spain’s Johann Muehlegg was stripped of his gold in the 50-kilometer race, Russia’s Larissa Lazutina lost her gold in the 30-kilometer race and Russia’s Olga Danilova was disqualified from the 30-k event. All three kept medals won in earlier races.

Yulia Pavlovic, a short track speedskater from Belarus, had elevated levels of nandrolone in his urine test but the results were tossed out because of a broken seal on a sample bag.

In addition, the IOC launched an investigation last week after blood-transfusion equipment was found in a house used by Austrian cross-country skiers at the games.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press