Defiant Mullera fails to qualify for steeplechase final

LONDON Fri Aug 3, 2012 10:17am EDT

Spain's Angel Mullera (2nd L) and Germany's Steffen Uliczka (R) clear a water jump during round 1 of the men's 3000m steeplechase at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the Olympic Stadium August 3, 2012. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Spain's Angel Mullera (2nd L) and Germany's Steffen Uliczka (R) clear a water jump during round 1 of the men's 3000m steeplechase at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the Olympic Stadium August 3, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

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LONDON (Reuters) - Spaniard Angel Mullera's defiant campaign at the London Olympics ended with a tumble on Friday when he failed to qualify for the final of the 3,000 meters steeplechase.

Spanish sports officials had tried to prevent Mullera from competing in London following his implication in a possible doping violation.

Portuguese Paulo Alberto succeeded where they had failed, however, stumbling at one of the hurdles and bringing the 28-year-old Mullera down with him.

Mullera finished 11th in his heat in eight minutes 38.07 seconds, well out of contention for a place in Sunday's final.

"I knew it was going to be tough because I wasn't able to prepare well for the Games. At least I wasn't last," Mullera told reporters.

"Really it wasn't bad at all. I came here with high hopes. I was up with the group and I hung back a bit because I was unable to get forward and that way I could see the hurdles better. But the Portuguese fell and that knocked me over too."

Mullera was dropped from the Spanish Olympic team last month after a newspaper published an email exchange between an address in his name and an unidentified doctor in which a possible doping plan was discussed.

The athlete, who said he never followed through with the plan, appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and they overturned the decision on Tuesday, saying the Spanish federation had used an "improper procedural course".

Kenya's 2004 Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi, who arrived in London with an assault charge hanging over his head, was well off the pace in the early portion of his heat but recovered to finish second and qualify in 8.20.97.

Brimin Kipruto, who won a seventh successive gold medal for Kenya in the event at the Beijing Olympics, joined him in the final by winning the slowest of the three heats in 8:28.62.

France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, silver medalist in Beijing and winner of the bronze at last year's world championships, was the fastest qualifier, running 8.16.23 to win the opening heat.

(Additional reporting by Iain Rogers in Madrid, editing by Mark Meadows)

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