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Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Cuban world record holder banned
Javier Sotomayor
Sotomayor is facing the end of his career
World high jump record holder Javier Sotomayor has been banned from athletics until 30 July 2001 for a doping offence.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation's decision means the Cuban will miss the Sydney Olympics in September.

Sotomayor tested positive for cocaine during last year's Pan-American Games in Winnipeg, Canada,

But the 1992 Barcelona Olympics champion has repeatedly denied taking any illegal stimulants, claiming his sample was manipulated and he was a victim of a plot.

Clear

Two weeks ago, Sotomayor made a final attempt to clear his name when he appeared before the three-man arbitration panel in Monaco.

Sotomayor sat through the 12 hours of meetings with an entourage of supporters, including Alberto Juantorena, president of the Cuban Athletics Federation and a member of the IAAF Council.

Two representatives of the IOC-approved Montreal laboratory that conducted the tests, including lab director Christiane Ayotte, were questioned about the procedures.

After the positive test, Sotomayor was cleared by the Cuban national federation. Even President Fidel Castro became involved in the dispute, claiming the high jumper and other Cuban athletes were victims of a conspiracy.

Uphold

But the IAAF was not satisfied with the decision and referred the case to its arbitration panel whose decision to uphold the two-year ban is final with no chance of an appeal.

The IAAF said in a statement: "On the basis of the panel's deliberations, Javier Sotomayor has been found to have committed a doping offence on 31 July 199 and, accordingly, the decision taken by the Hearing Board of the Cuban Athletics Federation on 6 August 1999 has been judged to be erroneous. "

"Javier Sotomayor is declared ineligible to compete from 31 July 1999 to 30 July 2001."

Sotomayor has struggled with a knee injury in recent years but would still have been among the favourites in Sydney.

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