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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 January, 2004, 01:11 GMT
Argentine Puerta banned
Mariano Puerta
Puerta was once ranked 18th in the world
Argentine tennis player Mariano Puerta has been banned from playing for nine months for failing a drugs test.

The clay-court specialist tested positive for banned substance clenbuterol during an ATP event in Chile in 2003.

He will also have to forfeit 15 ranking points and 3,000 prize money.

Puerta is the third Argentine in three years to be banned for doping offences, after Juan Ignacio Chela and Guillermo Coria in 2001.

Puerta will be eligible to play again after 1 July 2004 because he has not played since October after being suspended pending the hearing.

The 25-year-old was once ranked as high as 18 in the world.

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