The Spanish high court have rejected an appeal by Athletic Bilbao midfielder Carlos Gurpegi against a two-year ban for a failed drugs test.
Gurpegi tested positive for 19-norandrosterone, a metabolite of the steroid nandrolone, back in September 2002 and was subsequently handed the two-year ban.
Having repeatedly appealed the decision he was allowed to continue playing for Athletic until a final verdict was reached by the high court, but they have now found against him and ruled the ban should stand.
"The high court have notified Gurpegi of their sentence, rejecting his appeal and confirming the withdrawal of his playing licence for two years," Bilbao said in a statement on their website on Monday.
Gurpegi has always denied knowingly taking a banned substance and Bilbao club officials said in March 2003 that studies they had commissioned from the University of Extremadura showed that the player produced the substance naturally and had not taken it from an external source.
Although the latest ruling appears to bring to an end to the case that has rumbled on for nearly four years, Athletic have reacted with dismay and have hinted that they could further appeal the decision.
"Athletic Club, in its initial analysis of the sentence, has to show, without failing to respect it, its absolute disagreement with the decision," a statement on the club's website read.
The Basque outfit plan to hold a press conference on Tuesday to reveal their next move.