Track and field's national governing body is incensed over the drug suspensions of shot putter Randy Barnes and sprinter Dennis Mitchell by the sport's world organization.
"USATF is concerned and dismayed that the IAAF chose to temporarily suspend two American athletes on the basis of unproven allegations that they have committed a doping offense," Craig Masback, executive director of USA Track & Field, said Monday night. "USATF objects to the IAAF suspensions and will not enforce them."U.S. athletes are entitled to a full and fair hearing prior to being declared ineligible to compete. USATF has on several occasions informed the IAAF of its obligations under the Amateur Sports Act. Therefore, we are outraged that the IAAF knowingly breached our confidentiality rules, which were put in place to protect those ultimately determined to be in-no-cent."
The International Amateur Athletic Federation disclosed the indefinite suspensions Monday.
Masback said that Barnes and Mitchell would "receive the full support of USATF until such time as it is determined that they have committed a doping offense."
Barnes, the 1996 Olympic gold medalist and the world indoor and outdoor record-holder, and Mitchell, the 1992 Olympic bronze medalist in the 100 meters, were cited by the IAAF for failing out-of-competition drug tests April 1.
Barnes, who could face a life suspension for a second offense, was tested in Charleston, W.Va., and Mitchell in Gainesville, Fla.
Mitchell is president of USATF's Athletes Advisory Committee, the athletes' voice in the national governing body, which has taken a strong stance against drugs.
His suspension was handed down last week and represents his first drug offense.
The IAAF did not officially announce the suspensions, and the precise terms of the punishment have yet to be determined.
These are two of the most prominent suspensions in track and field, following Ben Johnson at the 1988 Olympics, Butch Reynolds in 1990 and Mary Slaney in 1997.
Johnson is banned for life after two suspensions, but has requested reinstatement. Reynolds served a 27-month suspension and now is competing. Slaney was found innocent after several months and also is running again.
The suspensions come at a time when International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch has suggested some performance-enhancing drugs be stricken from the list of banned substances.
They also come as U.S. track and field is seeking to regain its prestige and reputation but has had difficulty attracting sponsors and tele-vision coverage.
In determining an athlete's drug test, the IAAF examines a urine sample twice.