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Ramzi meets with IOC panel over positive test

OLYMPIC 1,500-meter champion Rashid Ramzi faced an IOC disciplinary hearing yesterday to explain why he tested positive for the blood-boosting drug CERA after the Beijing Games.

The Morocco-born Bahraini was the first of five athletes appearing before the International Olympic Committee panel. They were caught this year in new tests using blood samples taken at the games.

The others are Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin, who won silver in the road race, German cyclist Stefan Schumacher, Croatian 800-meter runner Vanja Perisic and Greek race walker Athanasia Tsoumeleka.

Athletes can be stripped of their results and medals, and can be banned from the 2012 London Games.

Ramzi emerged from the IOC headquarters with his Los Angeles-based lawyer Maurice Suh around 90 minutes after the hearing started.

Suh, whose previous clients in doping cases include former Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin and cyclist Floyd Landis, said he could not comment on the hearing.

Ramzi's case was followed by Rebellin, whose lawyer Fabio Pavone said on arriving that the Italian was "totally unaware" of having doped.

"Mr. Rebellin is going to profess himself completely innocent and that he does not understand how he found himself in this situation," Pavone said. "He has always been a clean athlete and he intends to demonstrate that. He is confident because he has nothing to hide."

The disciplinary panel was chaired by IOC vice president Thomas Bach of Germany, and included IOC executive board members Gerhard Heiberg of Norway and Denis Oswald of Switzerland.

"It will be the usual hearings and let us see what happens," Bach said yesterday. "There is no fixed timetable for the decisions."

The panel has the power to issue rulings but can also make recommendations to the executive board for a final decision. The board next meets in Berlin on August 13-14.

Any athlete caught doping and banned for at least six months cannot compete in the next Olympics. The IOC's rulings can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne for a binding decision.


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