from dope to hope

INDIANA - American sprinter Michelle Collins was reinstated by the IAAF on Wednesday after serving three years-plus of a Balco-related doping suspension.

INDIANA - American sprinter Michelle Collins was reinstated by the IAAF on Wednesday after serving three years-plus of a Balco-related doping suspension.

Her ban was to expire in July, but it was reduced because Collins cooperated with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and US government investigators. The 37-year-old Collins is eligible to try to qualify at the US Olympic trials next month.

"All I want to do now is return to the sport I love," Collins said in a statement released by the Valparaiso Sports Law Clinic, which represented her. "I look forward to competing again."

Collins, a 2000 Olympian, was a disciple of athletics coach Trevor Graham, who also worked with Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and Justin Gatlin.

Collins was stripped of her 2003 world indoor and US championship 200metres titles after an arbitration panel found she used banned substances provided by the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, or Balco.

She never tested positive, but the panel concluded she used the drugs for several years.

She later admitted to doping.

Originally suspended for eight years, Collins appealed and received a four-year ban through July 17 2008.

"We certainly support and have supported Michelle Collins' reinstatement once she came forward and rightfully assisted USADA in our efforts to rid the sport of doping," USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said.

"We are pleased that the IAAF gave full consideration to her case and in our mind made an appropriate decision, based on her willingness to provide truthful cooperation and assistance."

Tygart and the Valparaiso Law Clinic said Collins is believed to be the first person reinstated by the IAAF after providing information about other athletes and coaches and speaking to children about the harm doping can cause. - Sapa-AP

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