By Gary Anderson

November 8 - Azaerbaijani powerlifter Gunduz Ismayilov had drink spiked with steroid by former partnerAzerbaijani powerlfter Gunduz Ismayilov has had a lifetime ban from the sport lifted by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) after his former partner told a court in Baku she spiked his drink with a banned substance in an act of revenge.

The shock admission follows a nine-year campaign by Ismayilov and his lawyer to clear his name, during which time the powerlifter has been prohibited from competing in any official competitions as it was the second time he was found guilty of a doping violation.

The Azerbaijani, who competed in the under 90 kilogrammes class, was first banned for two-years after failing a drugs test at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, leading to him being stripped of his gold medal and losing the world record he had set.

He returned to compete at Athens 2004, where he again tested positive, leading to a life ban.

Another Azerbaijani powerlifter, Sara Abbazova was also banned for life following a positive test for nandrolone at Athens 2004, her second drugs violation after she tested positive at the 2001 World Championships in Hungary.

Ismayilov's partner, who was also a competitor in Athens, admitted in court to spiking his drink with anabolic steroid stanozolol when they were together in the Athletes' Village as an act of revenge after the couple had split-up in 2003.

The IPC refused to reveal the identity of the athlete who had admitted spiking Ismayilov's drink.

Ismayilov's partner admitted to spiking his drink when they were together in the Athens 2004 Athletes' VillageIsmayilov's partner admitted to spiking his drink when they were together in the Athens 2004 Athletes' Village

"This is a very unique case with a unique set of circumstances," said Dr Toni Pascual, chair of the IPC Anti-Doping Committee.

"Under the IPC Anti-Doping Code, an athlete with a lifetime ban under the previous Code can request for their case to be reviewed under the rules of the present Code.

"In this case, providing that they had new and very relevant evidence had been determinant.

"Having received sufficient proof from the athlete, his National Paralympic Committee (NPC) 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."

Ismayilov is now free to return to competitive action but not before he goes through a three-month out-of-competition testing period.

He will also be added to the IPC's registered testing pool which means he will have to provide current and accurate whereabouts information.

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