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updated: 1/30/2013 10:45 PM

Australian runner banned from sport for 6 months

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Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Olympic and world championships relay medalist John Steffensen has been banned from competition for six months by Athletics Australia for bringing track and field into disrepute.

An investigation by an independent tribunal last month rejected claims of racial vilification and discrimination made by Steffensen before the 2012 Olympics, when he missed a spot in the individual 400 meters and selectors opted instead for teenager Steve Solomon.

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Solomon qualified for the final.

The 30-year-old Steffensen, born in Australia of African heritage, claimed racism was behind the selections and he'd been the subject of racial slurs by team officials during the 2008 Olympics.

AA said it took a final statement from Steffensen on Wednesday before "unanimously determining that a six-month suspension was appropriate" and banning him from competition until Aug. 1.

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