Sailing: Gal's Olympic hopes on the line after drug test

One of Israel's best Olympic medal hopes may be denied the chance to take part at this summer's Beijing Games.

Udi gal 88 (photo credit: )
Udi gal 88
(photo credit: )
One of Israel's best Olympic medal hopes may be denied the chance to take part at this summer's Beijing Games after it was revealed on Monday that the A sample of a drug test taken from sailor Udi Gal had been found to be positive. Gal, who is set to compete in the 470 Class sailing competition with partner Gidi Kliger, is now anxiously waiting for the result of the tests on his B sample. The 29-year-old has claimed that the test result came out positive because of an anti-balding medication he has been taking. The test was part of a series of random drug tests conducted on some Israeli Olympic athletes by the Anti-Doping Committee of Israel last month. Gal's B sample will be checked at a special laboratory in Athens on Wednesday and, should it prove to be positive, he will face disciplinary action from the Olympic Committee of Israel and may be disqualified from the Olympics. Gal and Kliger have been extremely successful 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. Only last Saturday, the team won another bronze medal, this time at the European Championships, their final competition ahead of the Olympics. However it is Olympic glory they yearn for after finishing a disappointing 13th in Athens four years ago. "Until we receive the result from the second sample we are treating Gal's test result as a negative one," was all Michal Shahaf, spokesperson of the Olympic Committee of Israel, agreed to say on Monday. Gal was not available for comment on Monday. If he ends up failing the drug test he will not be the first sportsman to do so because of anti-balding medication. Brazil's World Cup winning striker Romario is perhaps the best known example of such a case. Last December Romario was suspended for 120 days for failing a doping test in a Brazilian league match two months previously and claimed he had been using a medicine to prevent hair loss. Romario claimed to have taken the anti-balding medication Propecia which includes the active ingredient Finasteride which is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list because it can mask use of anabolic steroids. Yedioth Aharanoth, reported the anti-balding medication Gal has been taking also contained Finasteride.