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Athletics: Negura faces drugs ban

Romania's Iulia Negura could be stripped of her European women's cross- country title and banned for four years after testing positive for steroids.

The Romanian athletics federation said yesterday that Negura failed two doping control tests last month, both times for the steroid stanozolol - the same drug which led to the Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson being thrown out of the 1988 Olympic Games.

Nicolae Marasescu, the head of the Romanian federation, said Negura failed an out-of-competition test in Romania on 4 December. She tested positive again after winning the European Cross-Country Championships in Charleroi, Belgium, on 16 December. "An investigation is under way and for the moment she is not allowed to compete," Marasescu said.

Under the rules of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, an athlete faces an automatic four-year ban if found guilty of using steroids. Negura, 29, finished eighth in the 10,000m final at the Atlanta Olympics. She won the world 15-km road title in 1990 and 1991. Sweden's Sara Wedlund, who finished second in Charleroi, would be declared the European champion if Negura is stripped of the title.