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Olympic champion suspended after testing positive for steroids

LaShawn Merritt has been suspended after testing positive for banned anabolic steroid DHEA which he consumed while taking an over-the-counter penis enlargement product. The athlete is the 400m Olympic and World Champion.

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AFP - Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt of the United States has been suspended after testing positive for an anabolic steroid contained in an over-the-counter penis enlargement product.

Merritt, who is also the world champion at 400m, said in a statement via his lawyer that he was "deeply sorry" at failing three doping controls for the banned substance DHEA.

The 23-year-old American, who faces a two year ban, said: "To know that I've tested positive as a result of a product that I used for personal reasons is extremely difficult to wrap my hands around.

"I hope my sponsors, family, friends and the sport itself will forgive me for making such a foolish, immature and egotistical mistake. Any penalty that I may receive for my action will not overshadow the embarrassment and humiliation that I feel inside.

"I am deeply sorry and hope that other athletes who take these types of over-the-counter products will be even more cautious and read the fine print, because if it can happen to me, it could happen to you."

Merritt failed the tests for the steroid Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) between October last year and January after he started taking the product following the end of last season.

The Virginia-born athlete has accepted a temporary ban and will not compete until his case has been heard, his lawyer Howard Jacobs stated.

The American followed up his Beijing Games gold medal by dethroning two-time 400m defending champion Jeremy Wariner when he strode to an impressive victory at last year's World Athletics Championships in Berlin.

As well as winning his individual titles at both Beijing and Berlin he also helped his country win the 4x400m relay titles at both events.

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