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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 October, 2003, 20:09 GMT 21:09 UK
Chouki, Garcia get drug bans
French runner Fouad Chouki
Chouki has protested his innocence
French middle-distance runner Fouad Chouki has received a two-year ban after testing positive for the blood-boostin drug Erythropoietin (EPO).

The ban came one day after European 5,000m indoor record-holder Alberto Garcia also received a the same ban after testing positive for the drub.

Chouki was also disqualified from his eighth place finish in the 1,500m at the World Championships in Paris in August, the French Athletics Federation (FFA) said in a statement after the athlete attended a disciplinary hearing.

He tested positive after the final, which was won by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj. Chouki was carried away on a stretcher after the race.

Chouki has protested his innocence, and said he had no idea how the substance entered his body.

"Lots of things are incomprehensible in this dossier. I'm innocent. Even if it takes 10 years, I'll fight."" Chouki said.

Chouki, who briefly held the French 1,500m record this year before it was broken by Mehdi Baala, must appeal within 15 days.

Garcia's ban was imposed by the Spanish Athletics Federation and means Garcia will miss next year's Olympic games in Athens, and will not be allowed to compete again until June 2005.

Garcia, who recorded the positive test at the World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne in March, had made dramatic progress on the international circuit over the past three seasons.

In February, he broke the long-standing European 5,000m indoor record - a mark that had stood for 27 years - and was second to Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie in the 3,000m at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham a month later.

The 32-year-old, who is also the reigning European 3,000m indoor champion, has denied taking any performance-enhancing drug.

Elsewhere, South African 3000m steeplechaser Alexander Motone has been kicked out of the All Africa Games after testing positive for the banned anabolic steroid Nandrolone, officials said on Thursday.

"Motone has tested positive from our out of competition testing conducted last month," chief executive officer of South Africa Sports Commission Joe Phaahla said.

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