Torri Edwards, runner-up in the women's 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, tested positive for the banned stimulant nikethamide at a meet earlier this season, sources familiar with the test result said Wednesday.
If confirmed, the test could keep Edwards, 27, a graduate of Pomona High and USC, out of the Olympic Games. A doping offense involving certain powerful stimulants or steroids can lead to a two-year ban from competition. Neither she, her coach, John Smith, nor her manager, Emanuel Hudson, returned calls Wednesday night seeking comment.
Key details about the test -- including where and when it was administered, and why the test results surfaced now, in the midst of the trials -- were unclear. The test was administered by the International Assn. of Athletics Federations, track's worldwide governing body, according to two sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Officials from the IAAF and USA Track & Field could not be reached for comment. U.S. Olympic Committee officials declined to comment.
Sources said the test's so-called "A" sample came back positive for nikethamide, a potent stimulant. It remained unclear whether the "B" sample had confirmed the A result. An athlete's urine sample is typically split into two parts, A and B; the A sample is tested first.
News of Edwards' test comes as U.S. authorities grapple with the BALCO doping scandal, and the challenge of fielding a clean team at the Athens Summer Games, which begin Aug. 13.
Edwards was due to receive the gold medal in the 100 and silver in the 200 from last August's world championships in Paris. U.S. sprinter Kelli White, who crossed the tape first in both events, was disqualified after admitting earlier this year to doping. At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Edwards won bronze in the 400-meter relay.
In Sacramento on Saturday, Edwards ran the 100 in 11.02 seconds; LaTasha Colander won in 10.97. In third was 20-year-old Lauryn Williams, at 11.10. Gail Devers ran fourth in 11.11.
Nikethamide, according to medical literature, was once considered a respiratory stimulant but no longer, because the effective dose is nearly toxic.
The World Anti-Doping Code says that the penalty for a first-offense doping violation for certain stimulants and steroids is two years. However, the code also allows for an exception, providing for no suspension but only a public warning for an athlete who can prove a substance was used inadvertently.
Prompted by evidence obtained through the BALCO scandal, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has charged four U.S. athletes with using banned substances. It is seeking lifetime bans against sprinters Tim Montgomery, Chryste Gaines, Alvin Harrison and Michelle Collins.
USADA is also seeking shorter bans against middle-distance standout Regina Jacobs and sprinter Calvin Harrison, Alvin's twin brother. Marion Jones, winner of five medals at the Sydney Olympics, three gold, remains a focus of USADA inquiry; she has not been charged with any offense and denies using banned substances.
Montgomery, the world-record holder in the 100, failed to qualify for the Athens Games, finishing seventh Sunday in the 100. Gaines failed to qualify in the 100; Alvin Harrison was eliminated in the 400 meters; the finals are today. Collins withdrew from the meet.
Jones finished fifth in the 100, not good enough for Athens. acobs has said she is uncertain whether she will compete in the 1,500.
Jones will try today to win an Olympic berth in the long jump. She ranked seventh in qualifying at 20 feet, 11 3/4 inches but has previously surpassed the Olympic "A" standard of 21-11 3/4.
She's still in good shape because only she and Grace Upshaw are likely to reach the "A" standard, and if they do they'd have precedence over those who might finish ahead of them tonight but miss the standard.
Times staff writer Helene Elliott, in Sacramento, contributed to this report.