Merritt banned for drug offences

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The Independent Online

Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt has been given a 21-month ban for returning three positive drugs tests. The 24-year-old, who failed the tests in October and December of last year and January of this year, will be eligible to compete again in July 2011.

The suspension, backdated to 28 October 2009, means he will return in time for the 2011 World Championships in South Korea, next August. Merritt should also be free to defend his title at the London Olympics in 2012, an American Arbitration Association panel announced, despite the IOC ruling that athletes who receive doping bans of more than six months could not compete in the next Games.

Merritt had admitted using an over-the-counter male enhancement product containing DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and pregnenolone.