Stam suspended for returning positive nandrolone test result

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The Independent Football

Jaap Stam is the latest Serie A player to test positive for nandrolone. The Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) confirmed that the Dutch international defender tested positive for the anabolic steroid on 13 October, after Lazio's match against Atalanta.

Stam's agent, Henk van Ginkel, said the 29-year-old was surprised by the news, which he claimed was released before his client was informed. "He was shopping when he was told the news," Van Ginkel said. "But he hasn't heard anything from Coni or from Lazio."

Stam, who joined from Manchester United for £16.5m in August, is the second Lazio player to fail a test this year. The Portuguese international Fernando Couto has just returned from a ban, while two of Stam's fellow Dutchmen, Juventus's Edgar Davids and Barcelona's Frank de Boer, have also been suspended for use of the drug.

Those three were banned after their sample proved positive in a repeat analysis, but new Coni regulations introduced last month mean that a player whose sample fails the first test can be reprimanded immediately. Previously, a sample would have had to have failed under a second analysis before Coni could take action.

A Coni statement said: "The Italian Medical Sporting Federation have been informed by our anti-doping co-ordinator of the news that Lazio footballer Jaap Stam has tested positive in his first test. The Rome laboratory has revealed in the analysis a presence of the metabolic substance nandrolone. The athlete has been found positive in the first analysis and will be immediately suspended from all sporting activities."

The Lazio chief medical officer, Andrea Campi, was perplexed, saying that Stam had tested negative during an in-house test four days after the Atalanta match. "We are all very surprised at this news," Campi said. "Our players use mineral salts and medicines which are totally certified according to the codes set out by Coni."

He added that four days after the Atalanta match 10 Lazio players underwent an unannounced random doping test by a Coni team who visited the club's training ground. Stam was not among the 10 but Lazio then carried out their own tests on all their players and the results were all negative.

De Boer tested positive in March but a year's ban imposed in June was reduced in July, allowing him to play from September. The appeals body of Uefa, the European game's governing body, said it was "more than likely" that contaminated food supplements had caused his positive test.

Stam was sold to Lazio by Manchester United after the publication of his autobiography Head To Head, although at the time the United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, said the decision had been made for purely footballing reasons.

Injury has hampered Stam's start for the Rome side. The Atalanta match marked his return from a foot injury sustained in the Champions' League game at home to Nantes in September.

It had already been a turbulent season for Lazio. Dino Zoff was fired as coach in September after his side failed to win any of their opening three league games and flopped in the early stages of the Champions' League.

The former Milan coach Alberto Zaccheroni took over, but fortunes hardly improved in his opening month. They almost made the second phase of the Champions' League until losing at Nantes, and after eight games had scored three goals and won once.