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Former Heptathlon Champ Seeks Reinstatement From Steroid Suspension

September 24, 1996

PHOENIX (AP) _ Former NCAA heptathlon champion Gea Johnson has dropped her $12 million lawsuit against the national and international track federations in an attempt to obtain an early reinstatement from a four-year drug suspension.

Johnson, 29, tested positive for anabolic steroids in December 1994. She sued USA Track and Field and the International Amateur Athletic Federation, denying she used steroids and saying the test was incorrectly handled.

In June, a federal judge in Phoenix extended a preliminary injunction in the case that allowed Johnson to compete in U.S. Olympic Trials at Atlanta.

Bothered by a quadriceps injury, Johnson was unable to complete the seven-event heptathlon and did not qualify for the Summer Games.

Johnson, who won her NCAA title in 1990 while competing for Arizona State, said she is returning to full health and considering her training options.

A victory in the court case would allow Johnson to compete only in the United States, not internationally.

With her legal bills currently in the six-figure range, Johnson said she decided to drop her lawsuit in hopes of getting reinstated.

``She wants to find a way to reconcile″ with USA Track and IAAF, said Klaus Axen, Johnson’s Tucson-based attorney. ``As long as the litigation goes on, there was no way to do that. We’re making a good-faith effort to dismiss and hoping we get a good-faith response.″

``I’m glad it’s over,″ said Ollan Cassell, executive director of USA Track and Field. ``We did what we were supposed to do in the case and we move forward from here.″

Johnson’s suit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning she can re-file it.

``There is no way I would have dismissed if I did not have that option,″ Johnson said. ``It would disappoint me (to return to court), but I’m ready for it ... I am innocent, and I’ve already paid a two-year price I shouldn’t have had to pay.″

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