Olympic 1500m champion Ramzi tests positive

MANAMA: The “B” sample of reigning men’s 1500m Olympic champion Rashid Ramzi has tested positive for a banned product, the Bahraini Athletics Federation announced on Thursday.

“The test on the ‘B’ sample taken during the Olympics last Summer revealed the presence of a banned substance,” the federation said.

In February, Ramzi tested positive for the new form of banned blood booster EPO named MIRCERA. He was one of six athletes to test positive for that drug after samples taken during the Olympics.

The Morocco-born Ramzi won the Gulf country’s first ever Olympic medal when he stormed to victory in the 1500m in 3min 32.94sec.

Ramzi, who gained Bahraini citizenship in 2002 after joining the country’s armed forces a year earlier, shot to fame when he won the 800m and 1500m double at the 2005 World Athletics Championships in Helsinki, becoming the first man to do so at a global event since New Zealander Peter Snell in 1964. Should Ramzi now be stripped of his Olympic medal, Frenchman Mehdi Baala would step up into third place on the podium with Kenyan Asbel Kiprop and New Zealand’s Nicholas Willis taking first and second spots.

Four athletes tested positive during the Beijing Games: Greece’s Fani Halkia, Ukraine’s heptathlon silver medallist Lyudmila Blonska, and Belarussians Vadim Devyatovsky and Ivan Tikhan, who had finished second and third in the men’s hammer.