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Gurpegi doping ban upheld in Spain

Carlos Gurpegi (left) in action against Barcelona
Carlos Gurpegi (left) in action against Barcelona

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MADRID, Spain (Reuters) -- Spain's sports council upheld a two-year ban on Athletic Bilbao midfielder Carlos Gurpegi on Monday after a positive test for nandrolone.

Gurpegi, who has always denied knowingly taking any banned substance, tested positive after the first match of the 2002-03 season.

The player, now 23, was originally suspended on February 15, 2003 while the case was being investigated, but the provisional ban was lifted in April following an appeal by the club.

A month later, Spain's Football Federation handed him a two-year suspension, but Bilbao lodged another appeal that allowed Gurpegi to carry on playing.

Monday's ruling is unlikely to be the end of the long-running saga. Athletic Bilbao immediately announced that they would appeal the decision in court.

Bilbao officials said in March this year that studies the club had commissioned from the University of Extremadura had shown that the player produced the substance naturally and had not taken it from an external source.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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