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ATHLETICS: 'Surprise' as Wilkins life ban is commuted; FORMER RUGBY ATHLETE HAS SENTENCE REDUCED.

Byline: DAVID MARTIN

FORMER Rugby & District AC member Perriss Wilkins has had his life ban commuted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Although the Court upheld the findings of UK Athletics' independent disciplinary committee in relation to the British discus record-holder's second doping offence, they reduced the punishment to a four-year suspension.

Wilkins, who competed for the Rugby club for one season and also played rugby union for Banbury. will now be eligible to compete again from June 11, 2006.

UK Athletics today expressed "surprise and disappointment" at the decision.

The final decision has not yet been formally received by UK Athletics from the Court and they are waiting to hear why leniency was shown.

CAS upheld the independent disciplinary committee's decision that Wilkins had tampered with evidence.

Once they have been confirmed in writing, UK Athletics will also need to consult with the IAAF as to the implications of the decision and any further course of action.

o EITHER Darren Campbell or Marlon Devonish will see their hopes for 200 metres glory at the World Championships end in disappointment when the British team is announced tomorrow.

Campbell, an Olympic silver medalist in Sydney, and Devonish - winner of this year's World Indoor title - finished third and fourth in Sunday's trial race at the AAAs Championship.

Julian Golding, the winner of a thrilling battle in Birmingham, plus runner-up Christian Malcolm were automatically chosen for next month's showpiece competition in Paris.

Campbell, who finished just 0.01 seconds ahead of Devonish, must now sweat it out with his fellow British international and await the selectors decision on who deserves the third discretionary place.

"We've had to make tough decisions in the past," said UK Athletics performance director Max Jones. "This is another one for us."

Campbell has already clinched a 100m slot following another sterling contest, when he finished behind European champion Dwain Chambers on Saturday.

"I hope they will take into consideration that I just did three rounds of the 100 metres in one day," declared the Mancunian after the finish of the 200m.

An easy decision - but one which would not at all appease Campbell - would be to deny him a shot at the 200m and show preference to Devonish.

Campbell, though, has always stressed the longer sprint is his number one distance, although he believes he has good prospects of a medal in both events.

Devonish, meanwhile, despite his indoor success in March, has not recaptured the form which fired him to Commonwealth silver and European bronze 200m medals outdoors last summer.

"It was very close," reflected the Midlander after Saturday's race. "I've beaten Darren before, so I think I might get the spot."

Devonish added: "I really didn't want to be in this situation - I wanted to qualify in the first two. I've been struggling all year since the indoors. It's going to take a bit of time, but I will be ready."

Jones and his colleagues know there is little in terms of quality to separate the duo.

"They are both outstanding athletes and have shown in past major championships they can produce the goods," said Jones, giving nothing away on who will be his choice.

While Campbell and Devonish sweat it out, the likes of defending triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards is certain to be in tomorrow's fist wave of selections.

Edwards was joined as an absentee in Birmingham by javelin thrower Steve Backley, 1500m runner Kelly Holmes and 400m hurdler Natasha Danvers, all of whom are carrying injuries.

Distance hope Paula Radcliffe last week insisted she did not want to be considered until the final wave of selections are announced on August 11 and will only compete if she is 100% fit following a battle against a leg injury and more recently a bout of bronchitis.

Triple jumper Ashia Hansen, who won a second World Indoor title in March, is also facing a race against time to be fit for Paris, where last year's Commonwealth and European champion could make her first leap of the summer.

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COURT DECISION: Perriss Wilkins
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 29, 2003
Words:678
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