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This is no dope deal.

Hearts boss Jim Jefferies last night insisted that French target Vincent Guerin isn't a drugs cheat.

The midfield star was one of four players given a six-month ban by French bosses last season after being caught taking muscle- building substance Nandrolene.

That ban was subsequently lifted and Jefferies is adamant there will be no repeat of the Stephane Paille affair which saw the French star booted out of Tynecastle

two years ago for drug taking. Jefferies, who hopes to sign Guerin on a free transfer from Paris St Germain this week, said: "These players were supposed to have taken some kind of steroid but Vincent was cleared after an investigation.

"Although his contract was up, PSG wanted to keep him and Marseille were also keen to sign him.

"But, although he had been found not guilty, that episode has soured him with French football and he feels it is time for a change."

A spokesman for the French Football Federation said: "We imposed a six- month suspension on Guerin because he failed a dope test.

"But there was a civil tribunal in August and the suspension has been thrown out. Because he had less than 2mg of Nandrolene in his blood it was ruled he was OK to carry on playing. If it had been more than 2mg then he would have been in trouble. We are not saying he did not take the drug but he is free to play in France, Scotland or wherever he chooses."

Guerin, who has 19 caps and won a European Cup-Winners' Cup winners medal two years ago, has decided to join Hearts after being impressed with their set- up during a training spell.

Jefferies said: "I saw him by accident playing for West Ham reserves at Southend when I was checking on Samassi Abou.

"I immediately asked Vincent to come to Tynecastle. His quality is obvious and he has already turned down offers to go to Japan and the USA."

Guerin's agent Milan Radovanovic confirmed that the 32-year-old has decided to join Hearts and could line up against St Johnstone on Sunday.

He said: "Vincent will formally sign a two-year deal with Hearts on Thursday night."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Grahame, Ewing; Jackson, Keith
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 30, 1998
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