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Dope ban hammer thrower headed to Rio

US hammer thrower Gwen Berry booked her place in the US Olympic team on Wednesday just days after the end of a three-month doping suspension.

Berry, 27, finished second behind Amber Campbell with a throw of 73.09 metres to bag one of the three tickets on the US team to Rio at Hayward Field.

Campbell’s winning throw came in at 74.03m while Deanna Price placed third.

Berry’s eligibility for the event had been shrouded in uncertainty after a doping case which emerged at the US Indoor Championships in Portland in March.

Berry was found to have used a prohibited medication and was given a three-month ban for the violation, backdated to March 29.

Her inhaler contained the prohibited substance Vilanterol Trifenatate during the championships in Portland.

Even though her doping test result at the event was negative, she was hit with a ban which only expired in later June.

The suspension wiped out all of Berry’s results following the Portland meet, including a new American record set at a meeting in Arizona in May.

Berry escaped with a relatively short suspension after the United States Anti-Doping Agency accepted her explanation that the substance in the inhaler was not being used to enhance her performance and had been properly prescribed by a doctor.

“I wanted to prove to the world that I’m here because of talent and because of God, and not because of an inhaler,” a delighted Berry said after qualifying on Wednesday.

“If I had known the ban would extend beyond the Trials, I would have fought it. But I accepted it because making the Olympic team is more important than setting an American record.”

Meanwhile veteran Campbell, 35, was satisfied after securing her third consecutive Olympic appearance following trips to the 2008 and 2012 Games, where she finished outside the medals.

“The love for the sport keeps me going,” Campbell said. “I get to wake up and chase my dream every day, and not everybody gets to say that. It means everything. I love my country.”

In the men’s event, Cornell University student Rudy Winkler took the honours with a throw of 76.76m.

Kibwe Johnson was second with 75.11m while Conor McCullough was third with 74.16m.

While all three men met the Olympic qualifying standard, their distances were way outside the season best set by double world champion Pavel Fajdek, who has registered the best seven throws of the year this season.

Fajdek is the heavy favourite for next month’s Olympics, with a leading distance of 81.87m this season.

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