Olympic hope fails drugs test

By Simon Griver, June 27, 2008

Israel’s top medals hope may be unable to compete in Beijing in August after the sailor failed a drugs test.

Udi Gal, who hopes to compete alongside Gidon Kliger, had two random samples taken by Israel’s Olympic Committee in May which showed traces of the banned substance Finasteride. The  29-year-old claims that he took the medication Propecia, which he did not realise contains Finasteride, to combat hair-loss.

Kliger and Gal have won bronze medals in the past three World Championships in the 470 Class sailing competition and  took bronze in the European Championships earlier this month. Judging by the statements of Yehuda Maayan, chairman of the Israel Yachting Association, which will give the Israeli sportsman a disciplinary hearing in the coming days, Gal can expect to get off with a reprimand.

“By not being careful, a sportsman can find himself banned from the Olympics even though he did not knowingly take a substance,” said Maayan.

However, any decision by the Israel Yachting Association can be overturned by the International Yachting Association, and consultations are taking place to gauge what their reaction is likely to be towards Gal’s offence.

Last updated: 1:28pm, June 27 2008