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banner Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 23:01 GMT
St Etienne punished in passport probe
Farid Mondragon
Metz keeper Farid Mondragon denies any wrongdoing
French First Division club St Etienne have been docked seven points in the fake passport scandal sweeping European football.

The French League's (LNF) judicial commission also handed the club's deputy president Gerard Soler a fixed year ban from the game.

St Etienne's Brazilian striker Alex and Ukrainian goalkeeper Maxim Levytsky have also been handed four-month bans, with two months suspended, for their role in the affair.

Brazilian striker Alex
Alex: Four-month ban

Alain Bompard, the St Etienne president, said he would appeal but told reporters: "I will make no further declaration before meeting with my lawyers on Wednesday. Whatever, we will not leave things as they are."

The loss of seven points leaves St Etenne staring relegation in the face at joint third bottom of the table.

Alex is accused of playing with a false Portugese passport and was hauled before the commission in Paris having missed an original hearing date last week as he was in Brazil.

Levytsky, hoping to tie up a move to Spartak Moscow, has been allegedly playing in France with a false Greek passport.

Documents relating to the two players, and Brazilian team-mate Jose Aloisio who is also under suspicion, have been seized from the offices of St Etienne by police investigators.

Meanwhile, Colombian Farid Mondragon of first division Metz has become the latest player to become embroiled in the scandal.

The goalkeeper was forced to call an impromptu press conference after he was arrested by police investigating reports he too has been knowingly using a false Greek passport.

Passport denials

Mondragon was released on Tuesday night and has been ordered to appear in a Paris court on March 14.

"I never admitted to those dealing with the enquiry during my detention that I had a false passport," Mondragon told waiting reporters.

Metz club president Carlo Molinari insisted he was not aware of any problem with Mondragon's papers when he was signed last summer.

All first and second division clubs in France are being investigated as part of an inquiry headed by the Paris prosecutor's office.

They are investigating allegations that some non-European Union soccer players have used fake passports to skirt nationality quotas in the French league.

Teams can only field three non-EU players.

So far all the players named say they did not know their paperwork was false and have blamed unscrupulous agents.

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