Duncan Mackay

  • She has been provisionally suspended by UK Athletics and denied entry in the ongoing European Championships
  • Ohuruogu was being billed as the potential darling of 2012 London Games

    Christine Ohuruogu, the athlete tipped to be Britain's golden girl at the London 2012 Games, had gone to ground on Monday night, fearing her Olympic dream was in tatters after it was revealed she has missed three drug tests.

    On Monday night, in a gloomy assessment, David Moorcroft, chief executive of UK Athletics said: ``The IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) and the rest of the world will be watching this case. Athletes are responsible for what they take, and their availability for out-of-competition testing is part of being a professional. It goes with the territory and it's a responsibility that needs to be taken very seriously.''

    Devastating blow

    The news is a devastating blow for Ohuruogu, whose destiny seemed mapped out from the moment last year that London was awarded the Olympics. The hugely talented athlete was tipped to be the face of the Games, a positive symbol of multicultural Britain.

    But the 22-year-old east Londoner may now be banned from appearing in the Games. Instead of lining up in this week's European Championships, she is at home in Stratford, preparing her defence against a charge of missing three drug tests, an offence that carries a two-year ban from the sport and, under a British Olympic Association bylaw, a lifetime Olympic ban.

    Ohuruogu, who has recently joined former Olympic gold medallist Linford Christie's Nuff Respect training stable, has apologised in a public statement. But for a sport reeling from high-profile drugs controversies, sympathy may be at a premium.

    Hopes belied

    Born into a large British-African family and raised in Stratford, a short jog from the site of the Olympic stadium, Ohuruogu was being billed as the potential darling of London's Games. She underlined her credentials in March when she finished ahead of reigning Olympic champion Tonique Williams-Darling to win the 400 metres at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, following a path taken by Australia's Cathy Freeman six years before, at the Sydney Olympics.

    Ohuruogu is also bright and articulate. It seemed by incredibly good fortune that Sebastian Coe and his officials discovered someone on their doorstep who could fill the kind of role Freeman . On Monday those hopes were at grave risk, and Ohuruogu was facing a fight just to be allowed to compete in 2012. She has been provisionally suspended by UK Athletics and told not to go to the European Championships, which opened in Gothenburg on Monday, where she was due to participate in the 400m and 4x400m relay.

    The British Olympic Association is one of only three national bodies that have the capacity to impose such selection bans. Ohuruogu is facing a similar charge to that which led to Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand being banned for eight months in 2004 and Greek sprinters Kostas Kederis and Ekaterina Thanou being kicked out of the Athens Olympics.

    But things have been tightened up. Under new rules, athletes have to make themselves available for random drug testing for one hour on five out of seven days by being at a specified location. On three occasions between October 2005 and the last week of July, officers from UK Sport, which conducts testing, turned up to test Ohuruogu at the address she had provided. Each time she failed to turn up.

    The chances of escaping punishment when she appears before a UK Athletics disciplinary hearing on a date to be decided appear slim, because she has apologised in a statement that failed to offer any explanation beyond a change in her ``training circumstances.''

    Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

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