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doping in sport

Athletes fail drugs tests

Spanish 5,000m champ Sergio Sánchez found to have used EPO

Sergio Sánchez celebrates his silver medal at Doha in 2010. Ampliar foto
Sergio Sánchez celebrates his silver medal at Doha in 2010.

Two Spanish track and field athletes have recorded positive results in doping tests carried out at the Spain Athletics Championships held in Madrid in July. The tests were the first to be independently carried out by the Spanish Agency for the Protection of Health and Fight Against Doping (AEPSAD) as part of changes to toughen up anti-doping measures in Spain.

The athletes in question are Spanish 5,000 meters champion Sergio Sánchez and long-distance runner Alberto Lozano, the Spanish Royal Athletics Federation has confirmed.

There was also a third adverse result in the tests, belonging to steeplechaser Ángel Mullera, who tested positive for corticosteroids. An investigation has been opened into the runner, who will now have to demonstrate before the authorities that he has medical permission to use the substance in question due to his asthma.

The results come in the wake of Madrid's recent failed bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, which many in part attributed to Spain's poor record when it came to dealing with sports doping. Critics in particular highlighted the Operation Puerto case, a Civil Guard investigation that concluded this year when a judge handed down very light sentences to those found guilty of involvement.

There was also a third adverse result in the tests, belonging to steeplechaser Ángel Mullera

Mullera, who was 11th in the final of the 3,000 meters steeplechase at the World Championships in Athletics in Moscow last month, also fell under the spotlight at last year's London Olympics when an alleged doping plan involving him was uncovered. However, he never gave a positive result in tests.

"If I was calm last year, this year I am even more so. [...] This is real persecution. I am a chronic asthmatic, and the substance, Pulmicort (Budesonide) is completely legal," Mullera wrote on his Twitter account on Thursday. "This afternoon I will make a press statement with my lawyers. We will take it as far as we have to. [...] In a short time everything will be cleared up."

Sergio Sánchez, silver medalist in the 3,000 meters at the World Indoor Championships in Doha 2010, as well as a former European record holder at the distance indoors, tested positive for EPO.

Lozano also failed one of the tests to which he was submitted.

A fourth positive test was also detected, corresponding to basketball player Chamberlain Oguchi, who plays for Herbalife Gran Canaria. The Nigerian-American tested positive for Bromantan.