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Beijing Olympic track winner tests positive

BAHRAIN'S 1,500 meters Olympic gold medalist Rashid Ramzi and two cyclists are among six athletes to test positive for drugs at the Beijing Olympics, officials said yesterday.

Italy's road race silver medalist Davide Rebellin and German Stefan Schumacher, who is already banned for doping, were confirmed to have tested positive for CERA along with Ramzi in re-tests of samples taken in Beijing last year.

The International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday it had discovered seven more positive drugs results from re-testing samples taken from Beijing involving six athletes.

The Italian and Bahrain Olympic Committees confirmed the Rebellin and Ramzi positives while the German cycling federation said Schumacher had tested positive.

The Bahrain Olympic Committee said it would meet Morocco-born Ramzi, the country's first Olympic champion, to inform him of the findings and hear his explanation.

"While the Bahrain Olympic Committee expresses its regret at receiving this news from the International Olympic Committee it confirms that Rashid Ramzi had been subject to many tests before and during the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and all the results were negative," it said in a statement.

Banned blood-booster

All the athletes tested positive for CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator), the new generation of the banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO), for which a test was developed only recently.

The athletes, three of them yet to be named, can now ask to have the B samples tested in their presence.

If the B samples are positive, then the athletes face two-year suspensions if they are first-time offenders and possible life bans if they have been caught cheating before, like Schumacher.

Ramzi and Rebellin could also have their medals stripped and all six could be banned from the 2012 London Olympics if their international federations, responsible for any sanctions, ban them for any period longer than six months.

The new rule was introduced by the IOC prior to the Beijing Olympics as yet another deterrent to drugs cheats, as was the storing of samples for eight years to allow re-testing once new methods of detecting banned substances are developed.

Nine athletes tested positive in Beijing after extensive pre-Games testing caught about 40 for drugs while six horses in the equestrian events were also found to have been given banned substances.


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