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Caffeine, Sudafed may be taken off Oly list

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LONDON — Drinking too much coffee or taking a common cold tablet would no longer get athletes disqualified from the Olympics under a new proposed list of banned substances, The Associated Press has learned.

A positive test for marijuana, though, would still result in a drug penalty. So would the medication at the center of American sprinter Kelli White's doping scandal.

The proposed new global list of banned substances was drawn up by the World Anti-Doping Agency, following more than two years of research, analysis and debate. Experts now have drawn up an all-encompassing list of prohibited steroids, stimulants, blood-boosters, narcotics and other drugs.

Among the key recommendations: Caffeine and pseudoephedrine, an ingredient of the cold remedy Sudafed, are removed from the banned category. Cannabis, or marijuana, remains on the list.

Modafinil, which could cost White her two world championship gold medals, is specifically named for the first time among the banned stimulants.

The decisions were disclosed to the AP by professor Arne Ljungqvist, the Swedish anti-doping official who heads WADA's medical research committee.

"We must adjust our list to modern thinking and to changes of attitude and changes of knowledge," he said.

The list must still be approved by the doping agency's executive committee, which meets in Montreal next Monday and Tuesday.

If ratified, it will go into effect Jan. 1 and apply to all sports and all countries covered by WADA's global anti-doping code. The list will be in force for next year's Summer Olympics in Athens.

It replaces previous Olympic movement banned lists, which were more limited in scope and enforcement.

"The work, the process this time, is far more far-reaching and deep than has ever been done before," Ljungqvist said. "Hundreds and hundreds of man hours have been devoted to this. But the result is not revolutionary. You end up with compromises."

Ljungqvist, chairman of the medical commissions of the IOC and the International Association of Athletics Federations, said individual sports bodies will have the option of adding substances to the list if they get WADA approval.

The decision to omit caffeine, pseudoephedrine and another minor stimulant, phenylpropanolamine, from the list would prevent cases of athletes being disqualified and stripped of medals for what some considered innocuous reasons.

Previously, a urine sample showing a concentration of caffeine greater than 12 micrograms per milliliter was considered a positive test.

U.S. sprinter Inger Miller was stripped of a bronze medal in the 60 meters at the 1999 world indoor championships after a positive caffeine test. At last month's Pan American Games, Letitia Vriesde of Surinam lost her gold in the 800 meters for the same offense.

Pseudoephedrine, contained in Sudafed and other over-the-counter medications, caused one of the Olympics' highest profile doping cases.

Romanian teenage gymnast Andreaa Raducan had her all-around gold medal taken away at the 2000 Sydney Games after her doctor gave her a cold tablet containing pseudoephedrine.

"We cannot look retroactively at what has happened in the past," Ljungqvist said. "The list in existence is the one you have to observe. In 2000, pseudoephedrine was on the list."

Ljungqvist said ephedrine, considered a stronger stimulant than pseudoephedrine, remains banned.