Rfef uphold Gurpegi ban

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ATHLETIC BILBAO midfielder Carlos Gurpegi has been banned from football for two years by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) after testing positive for nandrolone.

The 22-year-old was initially handed a provisional ban in February when the results were first revealed, but that was then wiped out by the Sporting Disciplinary Committee.

Gurpegi gave the positive test for 19-norandrosterone, a metabolite of the steroid nandrolone, in the first match of the season on September 1 against Real Sociedad.

The Basque club are shocked by the decision and have vowed to launch an appeal against it immediately.

"This is an absolute injustice," a club spokesman declared. "We are going to do everything in our power to fight this."

Athletic have conducted their own tests which showed that the player produced the substance naturally when playing, but the RFEF refused to accept the explanation.

If the ban is upheld, Gurpegi will not be allowed to compete in competitive football until February 2005.