Monday, May 21, 2007

Thanks To Carmona, Pachuca Waltz Into Mexican Final

In one of the most bizarre incidents I've ever come across, Cruz Azul were disqualified from the Mexican league playoff semi-finals after fielding an ineligible player. That player, Salvador Carmona, had tested positive for the banned steroid stanozolol in June of 2005, and was subsequently banned for a year by the Mexican FA. Despite a second positive test by Carmona for the same substance on January 31st of last year, the FA disciplinary committee decided to nullify the second result last summer because it mistakenly believed the B sample was destroyed.

The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland for a lifetime ban, and won. CAS rejected Carmona's formal protest because it said the former international didn't attempt to make any excuse which would have allowed CAS to consider a less severe sanction.

For some reason, Cruz Azul decided to let Carmona play, even after the Mexican FA informed both the player and the club of Carmona's ban the day before the first-leg semi-final against Pachuca. Pachuca went on to win that match and were then given a free passage into the final. Cruz Azul was assessed a one match sanction, which seems like a slap on the wrist when league guidelines state that teams could be expelled from the top-flight for fielding ineligible players.

Thus, Pachuca will now face America in the two-legged final this week. America edged past Chivas after a pair of 1-0 wins in the other semi-final. Immediately after the match, America boarded a flight to Sao Paulo for Wednesday's Copa Libertadores quarter-final second-leg against Santos. The tie's first-leg ended in a goalless draw at the Azteca. The schedule for the Mexican final will be revealed this afternoon.

Mexican defender Carmona gets life ban [Reuters]
America tops Chivas, to face Pachuca in the Mexican final [International Herald Tribune]


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