Mutu banned as mother takes blame

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ROME, January 30 – Fiorentina striker Adrian Mutu was on Friday provisionally banned over doping claims, while his mother suggested she was to blame after he tested positive for the banned substance sibutramine.Italy’s National Anti-doping Tribunal (TNA), operating under the jurisdiction of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), announced that it had "suspended the player according to the demand made by the office of the anti-doping prosecutor on January 28".

Mutu, 31, tested positive for sibutramine after scoring in his side’s 2-1 home win over Bari in the league on January 10. The Romanian international risks a suspension of between one and four years.

CONI indicated later on Friday that Mutu had also tested positive for the same substance 10 days later, following Fiorentina’s 3-2 Italian Cup win over Lazio, in which he scored a brace.

In a statement, the Tuscan club said their medical staff had had nothing to do with the administration of a banned substance and expressed their belief in "the good faith" of the player.

The club added that they wanted to see "the affair cleared up as quickly as possible".

Sibutramine is a medicine principally used in the treatment of obesity.

According to the ANSA news agency, who spoke to a pharmacologist, the substance would enable an athlete to increase his level of aggression.

Media reports in Romania on Friday, meanwhile, speculated that Mutu could have accidentally been given the drug by his mother.

Interviewed by the TV channel Telesport, Mutu’s mother, Rodica Mutu, admitted to having taken slimming tablets and said she had "definitely left some of them in Italy" while visiting her son.

"Maybe he took them out of curiosity as I had boasted about losing weight," she said. "But in any case, the box says that they’re a natural product that contains no banned substances."

Friends and relatives have rallied round the star, asserting that he would not have taken doping products on purpose.

Inter Milan defender Cristian Chivu, the Romania captain, also defended his "friend", saying that he was "obsessed by his figure".

"I know that he was always taking tablets to stay in shape," Chivu said.

"This time he must have just taken the wrong pill. I don’t believe it was an intentional thing."

Mutu was fired by Chelsea after a positive test for cocaine in 2004, not long after joining the English Premier League club. He subsequently served a seven-month ban for use of a banned substance.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport last year upheld the 17.17-million-euro fine handed to Mutu by FIFA as a punishment for breaching his contract with Chelsea.

The Romanian says he is unable to pay the fine but has offered to make a donation to a charity in its place.

Mutu arrived in Florence in 2006 after a year and a half at Juventus, and this season he has played in 11 Serie A and six Champions League matches, scoring four and three goals in each competition respectively.

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