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September 19, 2000
Jamaican athletes protest Ottey's inclusion
Commonwealth 400 metres champion Sandie Richards threatened to leave the Olympic village because of the furore surrounding the inclusion of team mate Merlene Ottey in the Jamaican 100 metres team.
Ottey, 40, was selected for the team Monday ahead of national champion Peta-Gaye Dowdie despite finishing only fourth in the national trials.
Jamaican athletes protested at Ottey's inclusion and Richards, the world silver medallist behind Australia's Cathy Freeman last year, said her preparations were being disrupted.
''I am running the 400 and I need a clear head,'' Richards said. ''I already have Cathy and (Marie-Jose) Perec and everybody else to think about. I don't really need this around me.''
Ottey has competed in every Olympics since 1980 and was runner-up in both the 100 and 200 metres in Atlanta four years ago.
Her preparations have been hampered by a doping ban for the anabolic steroid nandrolone, which was subsequently lifted by the International Amateur Athletic Federation's arbitration panel.
One of the protesters, Jamaican 400 metres hurdles champion Kemel Thompson, said the athletes were not prejudiced against Ottey.
''We have nothing against her because she has done some great things but right now we are talking about the rights of athletes,'' Thompson said.
''Peta-Gaye is the future of Jamaica's track and field, she is the up-and-coming star right now and if she gets taken out of the Games you are cutting her future short.''
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