Edwards, Harrison Join U.S. Olympic Team

Thursday, July 22nd 2004, 7:59 pm
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ The U.S. Olympic Committee released a roster of 531 athletes for the Athens Games on Thursday that includes track stars Torri Edwards and Calvin Harrison, despite pending drug cases against both.

Athletes in such circumstances can't be banned from the Games if they have already qualified.

``As it relates to the track and field portion of our roster, the athletes we submitted are those that were provided to us by USA Track and Field immediately following the Olympic team trials,'' USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said.

The U.S. team has competitors in 29 sports. Track had by far the largest number of qualifiers with 111 _ 58 men and 53 women _ and the list could grow if more are able to meet qualifying standards over the next few weeks.

Edwards and Harrison are on the team for now, but they aren't out of the woods yet.

Edwards qualified in the 100 and 200 meters and is a member of the relay pool, but faces a possible 2-year suspension after testing positive for a banned stimulant at a meet in April. A three-person arbitration panel began looking at the case Monday.

Harrison's spot in Athens as part of the 1,600 relay pool is in jeopardy after he tested positive for a stimulant at last year's national championships. He also faces a 2-year ban in a hearing that starts next Monday.

Should Edwards and Harrison be found guilty of doping, they could be kicked off the team. The International Olympic Committee approved a rule earlier this year that allows teams to change their roster for exceptional circumstances until the technical meeting for each sport in Athens. The technical meeting for track is Aug. 17.

``There are provisions by which changes could be made to the roster, including injury, illness or an exceptional circumstance such as an athlete being found guilty of a doping offense,'' Seibel said.

Edwards was second in the 100 and third in the 200 in last week's trials in Sacramento, Calif. During the event, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced she had tested positive for the stimulant nikethamide at a meet in Martinique in April.

Edwards said the positive test stemmed from a glucose tablet that inadvertently contained the stimulant, but she will have to show exceptional circumstances to prove her innocence. Athletes are expected to know what they put in their bodies, no matter the circumstances, under world anti-doping rules.

Should an independent panel of arbitrators rule against Edwards _ the sanctions range from a public warning to the 2-year suspension _ the decision will be reviewed by the International Association of Athletics Federations, track's world governing body.

Edwards would be able to contest any sanction in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world's top sports court. Harrison faces a 2-year ban for testing positive for modafinil, his second doping offense, but is contesting the results.

Aside from the two athletes facing potential drug suspensions, the U.S. team featured a wide range of athletes.

Equestrian's Robert Dover, who made it in dressage, was the most experienced after making his sixth Olympic team.

Track athletes Gail Devers and Jearl Miles-Clark weren't far behind with their fifth trips to the Olympics, and Jenny Thompson, the most decorated U.S. swimmer with 10 medals, made it for the fourth time.

There also were eight sets of siblings, three married couples and one set of cousins.

``We congratulate the athletes who have earned the opportunity to represent our country,'' USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth said. ``This talented team will strive to make America proud, and through their accomplishments, serve as a source of inspiration for our country.''

The USOC has set a goal of 100 medals after winning 97 at the 2000 Sydney Games and 101 in Atlanta in 1996.