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Colombian cyclist set to regain Olympic bronze medal

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BOGOTA, Oct 19 (AFP) - Colombian cyclist Maria Luisa Calle has won back the Olympic bronze medal she lost at the Athens Games after she tested positive for a banned stimulant, her coach Jose Julian Velasquez said Wednesday.

Cycling's world ruling body the International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed the news which was also confirmed by the athlete's lawyer.

Calle won the bronze medal in the track points competition but was disqualified after she tested positive for heptaminol.

Afterwards the 35-year-old protested her innocence and said she had taken paracetamol for a headache but the pain remained and, after medical advice, took a drug called neosaldina.

The Colombian cycling federation did not sanction her for the offence, and her country's Olympic committee and the Colombian government appealed against the decision to stip her of the medal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The Lausanne-based CAS has yet to officially announce the news.

After being informed of the UCI's decision, the cyclist's lawyer Andres Charria affirmed: "The decision (to take away the medal) has been reversed and the bronze will be given back to Calle."

An emotional Calle told a local radio station: "I've just been told. I can't believe it. It was my lawyer (Charria) who told me a few minutes ago."

Calle's medal was one of two won by Colombia at the 2004 Games.

Mabel Mosquera also won bronze in the under-53 category.

Calle's initial disqualification meant that American Erin Mirabella, who finished fourth in the event, took the bronze.



COPYRIGHT 2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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