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Drug Ban Lifted on Olympian Champion

June 24, 2002 GMT

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VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) _ Romas Ubartas, the 1992 Olympic discus champion from Lithuania who was temporarily suspended earlier this month after he tested positive for a banned steroid, can compete again, athletics officials said Monday.

The Lithuanian Athletic Federation said it lifted the ban on Ubartas after he received permission to compete from the sport’s world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, on Saturday.

``The International Association of Athletics Federations has informed us that Ubartas was allowed to participate in competitions,″ said Eugenijus Burokas, the general secretary of Lithuania’s Athletic Federation.

The IAAF gave no reason for its decision, Burokas said, adding the national federation was expecting more details later this week.

Ubartas, who has denied the allegations, was not immediately available for comment.

The athlete _who became a national hero when he won Lithuania’s first Olympic gold medal after it regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 _ has said he believes the IAAF was not sure if initial dope tests were accurate.

``That’s why they took two more samples,″ he said last week. ``My conscience is clear no matter what test results will be.″

Two tests showed traces of the anabolic steroid boldenon in the same urine sample from the 42-year-old athlete in April at a training camp in Arkansas. Two new samples were taken in May.

Ubartas tested positive for the same substance and was suspended for four years in 1993.