Middlesbrough’s Abel Xavier has been given an 18-month suspension after he tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid dianabol.

The Portuguese defender, who tested positive after Boro’s Uefa Cup game in Xanthi on 29 September, was given the suspension by UEFA.

Xavier has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and he can appeal against the decision within three days of receiving a written explanation for the suspension.

He is the first Premiership player to be found to have taken performance-enhancing drugs.

Uefa said in a statement: “The player was found guilty of being in breach of the Uefa anti-doping regulations. As a result, the Uefa control and disciplinary body decided to impose an 18-month ban on Abel Xavier.”

Middlesbrough signed the Portuguese international on a free transfer in August after being released by Italian side Roma.

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