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Azeri has ban lifted after ex-girlfriend owns up

(Reuters) - Azerbaijani powerlifter Gunduz Ismayilov has had his lifetime ban overturned by the International Paralympic Committee after a former girlfriend confessed to spiking his drink with an anabolic steroid at the 2004 Games in Athens.

The IPC said on Friday that the athlete's ex-partner told a law court in Baku that she had sabotaged his drink "as a form of punishment" while in the Athens Paralympic village.

The statement said the two, both competitors, had ended their relationship in 2003 but remained on good terms during the Games where Ismayilov tested positive for Stanozolol metabolites.

The admission came after an investigation by the athlete, who had served a two-year ban for a failed test at the 2000 Sydney Games and was banned for life after the second violation, and his lawyer.

"This is a very unique case with a unique set of circumstances," said IPC anti-doping committee chair Toni Pascual.

"Having received sufficient proof from the athlete, his National Paralympic Committee and the Azerbaijani court that his second violation was a result of sabotage, and not the athlete's own fault or negligence, the IPC has agreed to overturn his lifetime ban with immediate effect."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)

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