January 9 - Rashid Ramzi (pictured) has been officially banned for two years by the Bahrain Athletics Association after being stripped of his 1500 metres gold medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics for doping, they announced today.

The Moroccan-born Ramzi was among five athletes who tested positive last April in retroactive tests for CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator), an advanced version of the blood-boosting drug Erythropoietin (EPO).

He was stripped of his medal by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in November and the title awarded to Kenya's Kipruto Kiprop.

The Bahrain association backdated Ramzi's ban to May 3, 2009, and "pledged to combat the use of steroids".

Ramzi was the only gold medallist from Beijing caught using performance-enhancing drugs.

He had given Bahrain its first Olympic medal when he crossed the line first in Beijing.

Ramzi had tested negative at the Games but the IOC reanalysed the samples when a fully validated test for CERA became available.

The IOC also stripped Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin of his silver medal in the Beijing road race and disqualified German rider Stefan Schumacher, Croatian 800-metre runner Vanja Perisic and Greek race walker Athanasia Tsoumeleka, who all failed to win medals.

Under IOC rules, all five athletes are ineligible for the 2012 London Olympics, which could spell the end of the career of Ramzi, who turns 30 in July.

The failed test and ban also casts a shadow over the rest of his achievements, which, at Helsinki in 2005, included becoming the first athlete in history to win gold medals in the 800m and 1500 m in the same World Championship, and the first man to perform this feat in a global championship since Peter Snell did so at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Ramzi also finished second in the 1500m at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka and won the Asian Games title at Busan in 2002.

Ramzi is also the eighth fastest 1500m runner in history, having run 3min 29.14sec at Rome in 2006, a time which places him above middle-distance legends like Said Aouita, Steve Cram and Sebastian Coe,

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November 2009:
Ramzi stripped of Olympic 1500m title
November 2009: Italian drug cheat to be stripped of Olympic silver medal
October 2009: Ramzi confident of being cleared of doping after IOC delay decision
July 2009: Olympic champion faces doping hearing
May 2009: I was pleased Ramzi tested positive claims Cram