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Pall of Uncertainty Dogs Drug Ban End for Star Runner
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Star long distance runner Sun Yingjie's doping ban may expire in October, but her future in the sport remains shrouded in mystery.

Athletics officials say they are unable to confirm Sun's participation in the Beijing Marathon in October, which she won three years in a row from 2003 to 2005.

"For Sun to join this year's Beijing Marathon, there are two basic requirements - her ban must be complete and she must be willing to participate," said Hu Xinmin, director of National Team Management Department of the Chinese Athletics Administrative Center.

"Since there is still a long time to go before October's event, it is hard to confirm her return."

Beijing Morning Post quoted athletics officials as saying that Sun was confirmed for the marathon, something denied by Hu.

"It is hard to say at present that she will definitely take part in the event," Hu told China Daily. "It is difficult to predict what will happen in her training ahead of the race."

Sun, 27, tested positive for the banned steroid androsterone after taking silver at the women's 10,000 meters race at the Tenth National Games of China in October 2005 - a day after winning the Beijing marathon where she had passed a doping test.

She won a court case in December 2005 against a runner she accused of spiking her drink with the substance, but sports authorities maintained the ban since an athlete must be responsible for what substances enter their bodies.

Her coach Wang Dexian received a life ban for a second violation of anti-doping rules.

She is the highest-profile casualty of China's anti-doping campaign, having clinched bronze in the women's 10,000m at the 2003 World Championships in Paris. She also won two gold medals in women's 5,000m and 10,000m at the 2002 Asian Games.

Due to the ban, Sun was ejected from the national team leaving her to seek supervised training.

"I don't know about Sun's training at the moment, so I don't know whether she is in competition shape," said Hu. "Even if Sun could participate in the marathon, it is hard to predict the result right now. It depends on her efforts in training and her form at the time. In competitive sports only real power counts."

According to local media, Sun is now training with new coach Tao Shaoming at the Haigeng training base in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

(China Daily January 12, 2007)

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