Sotomayor Answers Accuser

High jump superstar Javier Sotomayor angrily denied he ever used cocaine and said new accusations by an international track official were aimed at harming his character.

"I have never consumed any" drugs, Sotomayor told The Associated Press during practice Friday at Latinoamericano Stadium. "What I can say is that someone - I don't know who or why - is trying to destroy my image."

Arne Ljungqvist, vice president of the International Amateur Athletics Federation, was quoted as saying earlier Friday that the two-time world champion failed more than one test for cocaine and should not have been cleared to compete at the Sydney Olympics.

"I know that he tested positive a few times," Ljungqvist told the Swedish news agency TT. "I think that he should still be suspended."

Ljungqvist said Sotomayor tested positive again for cocaine after onsite testing while training. It was not immediately clear from the TT report where that test took place.

"I knew about that test," Ljungqvist said. "And it's possible that there are more test results showing the same thing.

"The decision to let him compete again is like a hit in my face," said Ljungqvist, who says he may resign from the IAAF. "It's not fun to work right now. I can understand the public thinking that it's strange that we allow doped athletes to compete again."

Sotomayor was banned for two years after testing positive for cocaine during the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, last year.

On Wednesday, Sotomayor's suspension was reduced to one year by the IAAF, meaning that he could resume competing immediately and go to the Sydney Olympics next month.

"It scares me a bit that he is making these declarations at this time," Sotomayor said. "He really doesn't have any right."

Nevertheless, Sotomayor said he would try to ignore the latest accusation and concentrate on training in hopes of winning another gold medal.

Sotomayor, 32, is considered a favorite in Sydney even though he has been unable to compete recently.

The only man to jump 8 feet, Sotomayor is the world record-holder and the 1992 Olympic champion.

Backed by President Fidel Castro and Cuban sports authorities, Sotomayor has maintained his innocence and suggested he was set up by someone trying to harm the communist country's reputation.

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