In his sights


Maurice Greene is ready for Sunday’s 100 meters and has the times and swagger to prove it. Olga Yegorova is ready to leave a doping controversy behind and has official approval to prepare for her World Championships. On the day U.S. champion John Godina successfully started his quest for a shot put discus double with gold in the shot put, the Russians achieved a triple of their own Saturday — gold-silver-bronze in the 20-kilometer walk. In the failure category, huge pre-tournament favorite Eunice Barber of France stood out — botching three attempts in the heptathlon’s shot put to deny her any chance to defend her world title. Greene is confidently looking for a third sprint title in a row. With a strapped left knee, Greene never let it be known how much his tendinitis is bothering him and blazed to a 9.88-second win in the quarterfinals. “Everyone wants the gold medal. You have to come through me to get it,” he said after his display during Saturday’s heats. Sunday’s final in the 100 will highlight a day when golds are also awarded in the women’s heptathlon and shot put and the men’s hammer. “I’ve got something special for tomorrow. As you see, I just ran 9.88 with ease,” Greene teased about his fastest time of the year. After an initial heavy headwind reading indicated an almost superhuman effort, organizers said later the wind gauge was malfunctioning. It wasn’t the only malfunctioning to draw attention Saturday. Russia’s Yegorova, the 3,000 world indoor champion, saw her suspension for the world championships lifted after the results of an apparently failed drug test were thrown out on a technicality. She plans to run in the 5,000 and is a certain medal contender after setting the two fastest times in the 3,000 this year. Reigning world and Olympic champion Gabriela Szabo of Romania has said she would boycott the race if Yegorova runs, convinced the Russian should be punished. The final is Saturday. Initial results showed Yegorova tested positive for the endurance drug EPO at a July 6 Grand Prix meet in Paris. But the IAAF ruled tests should be done on both blood and urine. The Paris lab only used the latter. “For strictly rules and legal reasons, the IAAF had no other choice but to lift the suspension,” IAAF medical chief Arne Ljungqvist said. It left Szabo in a tough position. “It is Szabo’s personal decision whether to run the race or not,” Yegorova said. “It has not been proven that I took EPO so there should be no further questions.” Russian track federation president Valentin Balakhnichev said: “We viewed Szabo’s statement as blackmail.” Szabo, who qualified for the semifinals of the 1,500 on Saturday, refused to comment on the issue, saying “after (Tuesday’s) final, I talk to everyone.” Shot put champion Godina was more than willing to talk to everyone, halfway home to his unique double. He won both shot put and discus at the 1998 USA Championships. But he has struggled with the discus in major international competitions and this year he is only the eighth-ranked performer. “If I pull that off (the double), I don’t think anyone will do that for the next 100 years,” he said. Godina’s winning throw Saturday came on his first attempt. “You like to hit it early and then nobody else has a chance,” he said. “This is better than any event I’ve ever won,” and he had already won the 1995 and 1997 world titles. Barber was looking for her second heptathlon world title in a row, and her quest seemed a cinch after Olympic champion Denise Lewis of Britain withdrew due to a stomach disorder. But Barber lost her composure in the shot put, the third of seven events spread over two days. She fouled on her first two attempts, then refused to hold back on the final toss and touched her hand down outside the ring for a third violation that denied her any points. Realizing her chances of victory were through, Barber put her hands to her face and walked off, with rivals circling her to offer consolation. The mistake dropped her from first place to 16th and she pulled out. Roman Rasskazov, a three-time Russian champion, led his country’s sweep of the 20 kilometer walk, two seconds ahead of defending champion Ilya Markov. Viktor Burayev finished third. World record holder Stacy Dragila of the United States and her Russian rival Svetlana Feofanova had perfect records in qualifying for the women’s pole vault final to be held Monday.