Steroid test on Inter's Kallon proves positive

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The Independent Football

The Internazionale striker Mohamed Kallon has tested positive for two metabolites of the banned steroid nandrolone, the Italian Olympic Committee said yesterday.

CONI said the positive test resulted from a sample given by the Sierra Leone player after the Udinese versus Inter Serie A match on 27 September. Kallon's is the second positive test this season in Italy following a similar result for the Parma midfielder Manuele Blasi earlier this month.

In a statement on their official website, Inter said the player would now exercise his right to a second "B" test. "In response to the news that emerged today regarding Mohamed Kallon, FC Internazionale is calmly awaiting the completion of the tests," the statement said. "The player - like all members of the squad - undergoes periodic testing. All previous tests have always resulted negative."

Italy's Serie A has a strict doping test regime with two players from each team tested after each match. If Kallon fails the "B" test he faces suspension, the length of which will be determined by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).

Although there were no cases of positive tests in Serie A last season, the 2001-02 season had several top players suspended after testing positive for nandrolone. The Dutch internationals Jaap Stam, of Lazio, and Edgar Davids, of Juventus, were among the more prominent names to test positive - both protested their innocence.

The news adds to a bad week for Inter, who sacked their coach, Hector Cuper, on Sunday and lost 3-0 to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions' League on Tuesday. It came just hours after the new coach, Alberto Zaccheroni, officially took over.

European clubs are not obliged to release African players for qualifying matches for the 2004 Olympic Games, Fifa said yesterday. Some French clubs have refused to release players for the African qualifying programme, the first round of which takes place this weekend, because they said the matches were not part of a calendar of international games drawn up by Fifa.

They asked the world governing body for a ruling earlier this week. The qualifiers take place on the same weekends as French league and cup games. "We have informed the clubs and the national associations that those dates for Olympic qualifiers are outside the dates of the harmonised calendar," a Fifa spokesman said.