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Shot-putter Barnes awaits court ruling


NEW ORLEANS -- Another day, another court, another controversy for the sport of track and field.

This time, a federal judge is expected to rule by noon today whether to overturn a circuit court judge's decision to let world-record shot-putter Randy Barnes compete in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver listened to arguments yesterday from Barnes' lawyer, Anne Shaffer, and James Coleman, a Duke University law professor who represents The Athletics Congress.

Coleman said the case doesn't belong in court, it belongs in the administrative appeals process set-up for Barnes to try to overturn his two-year suspension for using steroids.

Barnes last appealed to TAC in April 1991. Shaffer said he didn't run through a series of appeals like suspended 400-meter runner Butch Reynolds because he wouldn't have a fair chance. "The only reason I lost my hearing is that the burden of proof was put on the athlete," Barnes told the Associated Press.

Earlier this week, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib Jr. ordered that Barnes be allowed to participate in the shot put trials, which begin tomorrow. He also blocked appeals.

Barnes, a 1988 Olympic silver medalist, was suspended for testing positive for steroids after a meet in Malmo, Sweden, in August 1990.

He told AP that, even if he was given a court order to compete in the trials, he was still a long-shot to make the U.S. team.

"The throwers are stronger this year," he said. "It'll definitely be a situation where it's not going to be handed to me on a silver platter. I'm not throwing as far as I did when I set the record, but I'm throwing over 70 [feet] consistently."

Barnes said he is a victim of an unfair drug-testing system.

"They basically whitewashed the whole thing," he said. "They were not interested in the truth. They simply wanted to put this whole thing behind them as fast as possible."

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