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Athletics: Flying Britton doubles up Olympic chances

FIONNUALA Britton has nailed the Olympic 10,000m qualifying time with her first ever run over the distance on the track.

The European Cross Country champion, who had already qualified for London at steeplechase, got the flat time by clocking 31:29.22 when finishing third at the high-class Payton Jordon Invitational in California.

Her time was well inside the 31:45 'A' standard and the fourth fastest ever by an Irishwoman after Sonia O'Sullivan's 30:47, Catherina McKiernan's 31:08 and Marie Davenport's 31:28:78.

Britton is already an Olympian in her 3,000m track speciality, but her coach Chris Jones wanted her to switch to the flat in time for London.

Mullingar Harriers' Mark Christie ran 13:37.32 at the same meeting, which qualified him for this summer's European Championships, but Alistair Cragg, who was looking for the 10,000m qualifying time, failed to finish.

Crusaders sprinter Steven Colvert broke Jason Smyth's old Irish U-23 100m record (10:51) with his 10:45 opener in San Diego, where training partner Paul Hession clocked 10:50. Colvert, who is chasing the 20:55 qualifying time for London, also opened his season with 20:89 for 200m.

Elsewhere, relations between the British Olympic Association (BOA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) dramatically worsened yesterday in the wake of the BOA's failed attempt to protect their by-law barring drug cheats from competing in the Olympics.

Yesterday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled the controversial by-law invalid, an outcome that frees Dwain Chambers and David Millar to compete in this summer's Games.

It also sparked an extraordinary assault on the BOA by the Australian president of Wada, John Fahey, who criticised the BOA's "hysterical and inaccurate public statements" in defence of their by-law.

Moments later, Colin Moynihan, chairman of the BOA, described the ruling as a "hollow victory for Wada".

Moynihan defended the BOA's actions and called for "fundamental and far-reaching reform" of Wada, saying: "We have been neither hysterical nor inaccurate, rather we have always been cautious and guarded in our response and have always put the athletes first."

Siza Agha, Chambers' lawyer, last night joined the attack on the BOA.

He said: "As hosts for the 2012 Olympics, this delicate and emotive issue required international diplomacy, foresight and responsibility. What we have received has been a crude and defiant display fuelled by misguided statements such as 'we have standards and the rest of the world doesn't'.

"It has been an exposure of colonial arrogance that even the most extreme and blinkered should have realised could only serve to marginalise British opinion on the international stage."

The BOA want a minimum four-year ban introduced for first-timers that would mean anyone who failed a test would miss the next Olympics.

Irish Independent