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 Assn. panel had found that there may be exceptional circumstances in Edwards' case, but the IAAF board decided otherwise.
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 champ 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 because she wasn't feeling well.
She had argued that there would be no reason to cheat at the meet because there was no prize money and the field was weak. She said raced because she was paid a substantial appearance fee and was the meet's top attraction.
Edwards was expected to contend for medals in the 200 as well as the 100 in Athens. Her absence could give Jones a chance to defend her gold medal in the 100 meters because it would free up a spot in the event.