Former Olympic women's hurdles champion Fani Halkia of Greece has been banned from athletics for two years after she tested positive for a banned steroid before the Beijing Games.

The Hellenic Association of Amateur Athletics says Halkia was banned at a board meeting Wednesday.  The ban is effective from August.

Halkia, the 400-meters hurdles gold medalist from the 2004 Athens Games, tested positive for the banned steroid, methyltrienolone, ahead of this year's Beijing Olympics.  She is one of 19 Greek athletes to test positive for drugs.  Halkia has denied knowingly taking steroids, and she insists she is the victim of sabotage.

The 29-year-old runner, her coach, and two other athletes who failed dope tests, face up to five years in prison on criminal charges in Greece.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.