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Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Ramzi stripped of Olympic title

Rashid Ramzi
Ramzi used to compete for his native Morocco

Bahrain's Olympic 1500m champion Rashid Ramzi has been stripped of his gold medal after testing positive for doping at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Ramzi, who was his country's first Olympic champion, was one of five athletes who tested positive in April for new blood-booster Cera.

The 29-year-old faces a two-year ban but is expected to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Kenya's Asbel Kipruto Kiprop, who came second, is set to be upgraded to gold.

Nicolas Willis of New Zealand could go from bronze to silver with France's fourth-place finisher Mehdi Baala getting the bronze.

Britain's double Olympic 1500m champion Sebastian Coe, who is chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee and an International Association of Athletics Federations vice president, praised the decision to strip Ramzi of his medal.

He said: "That was the right decision. Cheats cannot prosper in our sport and people will realise that sooner or later.

"Unfortunately, that was high profile and we can do without it, but it also shows the quality of our testing procedures now."

The IOC stores Olympic doping samples for eight years with the option of reanalyzing them once new testing methods are developed.

On Tuesday, Italy's Davide Rebellin had his Olympic cycling road race silver taken away after a positive dope test.

Three non-medal winners, German cyclist Stefan Schumacher, Croatian 800m runner Vanja Perisic and Greek race walker Athanasia Tsoumeleka also tested positive for Cera, an advanced version of endurance-enhancing hormone EPO, in retesting of Beijing samples.

A sixth athlete, women's weightlifter Yudelquis Contreras, was initially found positive in the retesting process, but she was cleared by the Dominican Olympic Committee after her B sample came back negative.

IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist said Wednesday's decision shows the Olympic anti-doping effort is working.

"It is a very good message," he said. "We do have this type of possibility to go back and make use of the eight-year statute of limitation.

"This sends a very serious warning to people. Even though you may not be caught at the competition today you may be identified tomorrow. That is a deterrent, for sure."

The International Olympic Committee had already disqualified nine other athletes for doping at the Beijing Games, including Ukrainian heptathlete Lyudmila Blonska who was stripped of her silver medal, and North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su, who had his silver and bronze medals taken away.

see also
Rebellin Olympic medal taken away
17 Nov 09 |  Olympics
Beijing offenders to learn fate
05 Oct 09 |  Olympics
IOC to re-examine Beijing samples
09 Oct 08 |  Olympics
Positive Beijing tests confirmed
08 Jul 09 |  Olympics
Ramzi storms to 1500m gold medal
19 Aug 08 |  Athletics

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