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By ESPN Staff

Gurpegi banned for two years after positive test

MADRID, July 31 (Reuters) - The Spanish high court have rejected an appeal by Athletic Bilbao's Carlos Gurpegi and imposed a two-year ban on the midfielder after he tested positive for nandrolone in 2002.

'The high court have notified Gurpegi of their sentence, rejecting his appeal and confirming the withdrawal of his playing licence for two years,' Bilbao said in a statement on their website on Monday.

Gurpegi, who has always denied knowingly taking a banned substance, tested positive for a metabolite of the banned steroid nandrolone, in the first match of the 2002-03 season.

Bilbao club officials said in March 2003 that studies they had commissioned from the University of Extremadura showed that the player produced the substance naturally and had not taken it from an external source.

The latest ruling brings to an end a complex series of legal wranglings that have lasted for close to four years.

The Spanish government has said it is determined to crack down on doping in sport and has passed a draft law which will make it an offence for professional sportsmen to use, or be supplied with, banned substances.