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Giuseppe Rossi faces one-year ban after testing positive for banned substance

Former Manchester United, Newcastle and Villarreal forward Giuseppe Rossi faces a one-year ban after testing positive for a banned substance.

Rossi, 31, tested positive for a substance which, in certain cases -- and only with official consent -- may still be taken, in a random doping test following Genoa's 1-0 defeat to Benevento on May 12. Rossi did not have any special dispensation for its use.

A hearing on Oct. 1 will determine whether the former Italy international will be sanctioned, with the state prosecutor calling for a one-year ban after receiving evidence from Italy's National Anti-Doping Organisation.

Italy's National Olympic Committee confirmed to ESPN FC on Tuesday that Rossi had failed a doping test.

Rossi has maintained his innocence in the wake of these accusations with a joint statement released along with his agent, Andrea Pastorello.

"I have always been clean and this is an evident case that needs to be shelved," they said to Ansa. "The positivity was reasonably achieved by an involuntary contamination. The substance was present at the minimum levels of 1ng/ml.

"This substance is exclusively found in eyedrops to reduce the intraocular pressure and its use in the eyes is not considered relevant for doping, but could be seen as a diuretic or masking agent only with systemic use.

"The clarification we gave to the inquest excluded any intentional use aimed at doping, as confirmed by the Antidoping Investigators, as the test he had a week earlier was negative.

"Giuseppe Rossi is a clear figure who has never been disciplined for anything other than an accumulation of yellow cards. He therefore hoped that the reasonable assumption this was involuntary contamination would lead to the case being dropped.

"He is extremely upset at finding himself in this situation, but gave all possible information to the investigators, confirming he cannot reasonably know which food and/or drink the substance could've been contained in during the days before the Benevento game."

Meanwhile, Genoa coach Giuseppe Ballardini has come out in support and has said he is certain his former forward is innocent.

"I'm not certain of many things in life," Ballardini said in a news conference. "One certainty I have though is that Rossi did not use banned substances -- it is beyond any reasonable doubt."

Rossi, whose career has been blighted by injuries, is a free agent after being released by Genoa in the summer. He made only nine appearances for the Rossoblu, scoring one goal.

He previously tried to resurrect his career following a serious knee injury with a loan spell at Levante, for whom he scored six goals in 17 appearances in the second half of the 2015-16 season.

Prior to that, he spent three seasons at Fiorentina and was under consideration by then Italy coach Cesare Prandelli for his 2014 World Cup squad, but he did not make the final selection due to concerns over his fitness.

Just a few months later, the New Jersey native suffered the second of three cruciate knee ligament injuries in his career.

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