Xavier's doping ban cut to 12 months from 18

July 11, 2006

LONDON, July 11 (Reuters) - Former Portugal defender Abel Xavier has had his doping suspension cut to 12 months from 18 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, UEFA said on Tuesday.

Xavier's ban was imposed by UEFA in November when the Middlesbrough player tested positive for anabolic steroids, becoming the first player from the Premier League to be banned for taking performance-enhancing drugs.

He had joined Boro from AS Roma last August. Middlesbrough cancelled his contract in January after his appeal to UEFA failed in December.

'We are surprised by the verdict but cannot make any further comments before receiving the detailed reasoning of the decision,' a UEFA spokesman said in a statement.