By Duncan Mackay

Jonathon_Power_playing_squashAugust 23 - The World Squash Federation (WSF), who are hoping to be elected onto the Olympic programme for 2020, are refusing to drop a player who has been banned from drugs from its newly-launched Ambassador Programme.

Canadian Jonathon Power (pictured) was last week named, along with Malaysia's women's world number one Nicol David, as part of a new international promotional initiative devised by the WSF which is due to be launched when it visits the Latvian capital, Riga later this year. 

"We couldn't wish for two more appropriate ambassadors for our sport to help spread the word in Latvia and beyond, and we are thrilled that Nicol and Jonathon have been able to find time in their busy schedules to join us in Riga," said WSF chief executive Andrew Shelley when launching the new scheme.

In its press release, the WSF describe Power as having a "glittering career" who became the first North American world number one in 1999, retired from the PSA World Tour in March 2006 during which he claimed 37 titles, including the World Open, the British Open and four Tournament of Champions' crowns.

Power, the 2002 Commonwealth Games champion, announced his "retirement" in 2006 but continued to play for Canada at the 2007 and 2009 World Team Championships and won his country's National Championships in 2008.

He also played in the Italian League and it was while competing there he was tested after a match and his urine sample showed traces of a reccreational drug.

Power was banned for nine months, although news of his suspension was never published by the WSF and has not been revealed until now.

A spokesman for the WSF confirmed the ban to insidethegames but claimed that it was "pretty irrelevant since he had already retired".

He has also confirmed that the 36-year-old Power, now a successful coach, will continue in his new ambassadorial role, which will tryi to highlight the appeal of squash to the public and media as the sport steps up its bid to get into the Olympics.

"The WSF appointed him as a member of the 'Ambassador Programme' in full knowledge of this incident," the spokesman told insidethegames

"But their view is that it was a long time ago, and he wasn't a full-time professional at the time."

Squash's attitude towards Power is in stark contrast to the hardline approach adopted towards Britain's Linford Christie, the former Olympic 100 metres champion, who also tested positive for banned drugs when he claimed to have retired.

He was suspended for two years and is now banned from any involvement in London 2012 because the British Olympic Association (BOA) imposes a life-ban on any athlete who tests positive for drugs.

Also, under the rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), if squash was an Olympic sport at 2012 then Power would be banned from competing in London.

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