Olympic sailor Gal gets off with a warning

Despite failing drug test, Gal permitted to continue on to the Olympic Games.

udi gal 224 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
udi gal 224 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Udi Gal breathed a huge sigh of relief on Monday after his failed drug test only resulted in a reprimand by an Israel Yachting Association Hearing Committee. Gal can now continue his preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games in which he'll compete in the 470 Class sailing competition with partner Gidi Kliger. The IYA's committee, which included international sailing judge, Aharon Botzer, veteran sailor, Shmuel Nino and law professor, Dan Mor, determined that Gal unknowingly took the banned substance Finasteride because of an anti-balding medication he was using. Finasteride is a predominant ingredient in the anti-hair loss drug Propecia and is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list because it can mask use of anabolic steroids. Nevertheless, the committee established that Gal had no intention of gaining a competitive advantage unlawfully and should therefore only be warned for failing the drug test. "I'm relieved," IYA chairman Yehuda Mayan told The Jerusalem Post. "In these kinds of cases you can also be suspended. It's not pleasant to see one of our sportsmen caught up in such a problem which could have even cost him the Olympics." The committee's decision was sent to the International Sailing Federation, which can choose to appeal the ruling. "Usually the ISF doesn't appeal and our committee worked by the international standards," Mayan said. Gal and Kliger have been two of Israel's most successful athletes in recent years. The duo claimed silver medals at the European Championships in 2001 and 2005 and won bronze medals at the World Championships in the last three years.