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 January 11, 2002 | 1155 IST

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Sotomayor tests positive for nandrolone

A second sample from former Olympic high jump champion Javier Sotomayor has tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said on Thursday.

Cuba's Sotomayor, the world record holder at 2.45 metres, has denied taking the substance.

But IAAF spokesman Giorgio Reineri told Reuters a B-sample had been re-tested in Madrid a week ago. "The sample was positive and confirmed the A sample," he said.

The samples were taken at a meeting in Tenerife last July. The 34-year-old retired in October only for the positive finding to emerge the following month.

Sotomayor was the third high-profile sportsman to be named in a short period after soccer players Jaap Stam of the Netherlands and Pep Guardiola of Spain also tested positive for nandrolone.

The Cuban, an idol in his sports-mad country, insisted: "I know that every time there is a doping case, everyone generally says they are innocent. But in my case I am innocent."

Sotomayor was suspended for two years in 1999 after testing positive for cocaine at the Pan-American Games in Winnipeg.

The ban was later reduced because of "exceptional circumstances" to allow him to take part in the 2000 Olympics. He has always pleaded his innocence, saying he had been the victim of a plot.

A second drugs offence would normally prompt a life ban but that is now academic since he has quit the sport.

Sotomayor won gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and silver in Sydney.

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