x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Bahraini Olympian tests positive for banned drugs

Bahrain's first Olympic medal winner, Rashid Ramzi, may be stripped of his gold medal after failing a second test for drugs.

Bahrain's first Olympic medal winner, Rashid Ramzi, may be stripped of his 1,500-metre Beijing gold medal and banned for two years after failing a second test for performance-enhancing drugs. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) reanalysed samples from nearly 1,000 athletes after developing new methods of testing for the performance-enhancing drug CERA, an advanced version of a blood-boosting hormone.

Ramzi was one of six athletes to test positive, and one of five whose second samples have now also been confirmed. Morocco-born Ramzi - who joined the Bahraini armed forces and gained citizenship in 2002 - had been investigated by antidoping chiefs after suspicions were raised about his performance. He ran into the record books four years ago when he became the first athlete to win 800m and 1500m gold medals at the same World Championship.

His career-defining moment came in the 1500m in Beijing, when he defeated Kenya's Asbel Kiprop in a time of 3 minutes, 32.94 seconds - only seven seconds shy of the record - and sparked wild celebrations in Bahrain. But he now looks certain to lose his medal when the IOC's executive committee meets in Berlin in August. Kiprop would be elevated to gold medallist, almost 12 months after finishing second on the track.

The other four athletes who failed their second tests were Greece's 20-kilometre walk winner, Athanasia Tsoumeleka, Croatia's 800m runner Vanja Perisic and two cyclists, Italy's David Rebellin and Germany's Stefan Schumacher.
emegson@thenational.ae