NEWPORT sprinter Christian Malcolm has defended Gareth Warburton after the 800m runner was forced out of the Commonwealth Games due to a doping violation.
Warburton has been provisionally suspended from all competition after failing a drugs test.
The 31-year-old Welsh record holder insists he has not knowingly taken any banned substance and Malcolm has back Warburton.
“I know Gareth and have done for a long time since he was a young lad,” said Malcolm.
“He has not the sort of person who would take drugs or cheat knowingly.
“I don’t know what it is whether it’s a medicine or supplement which he has taken by mistake.
“But I just know he is an honest lad. It’s unfortunate for him but hopefully the truth will come out.”
Malcolm, who failed in his bid to make a fifth Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and ran his last race in Wales on Tuesday night admitted the authorities have to take a hard line on doping cases.
But the 35-year-old believes there is a more deep rooted problem with genuine drugs cheats in the sports.
“They have to take a hard line because cheats in the past have said it has been an accident and they don’t know they got it into their system,” said the Newport sprint legend.
“As a youngster coming in you can be naive to think you can just take your normal supplements but you can’t.
“The education needs to be more at grassroots level and just reinforce how important it is to look at the labels and make sure you are accountable for what goes within your system.”
Warburton’s withdrawal is another major blow ahead of the Commonwealth Games for Team Wales.
Ebbw Vale boxer Ashley Brace was deemed ineligible to compete in Glasgow because of her past involvement in kick boxing.
And injuries and illness also forced out world triathlon gold medallists Helen Jenkins and Non Stanford and cycling champion Becky James of Abergavenny.
But Malcolm, who burst onto the senior scene as a teenager by winning Commonwealth Games silver in Malaysia in 1998, believes it is time for the new generation to shine.
“No team wants bad news but I remember coming into the team when I was just 19 in my first Commonwealth Games,” Malcolm told BBC Radio Wales.
“I was maybe ranked 15th but came away with a silver medal.
“This is the time for the youngsters to step up and take an opportunity.
“The Commonwealths is a stepping stone to the Olympics and world championships.
“So this is the chance to make a name for themselves.”