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05-16-2007, 11:45 PM
Xavier lands with LA Galaxy after leaving Middlesbrough
td.yspwidearticlebody { font-size: 13.5px; }AFP
May 14, 2007
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Portuguese defender Abel Xavier, the first English Premiership player to serve a ban for having performance-enhancing drugs in his system, agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Galaxy here Monday.
The move will make Xavier a teammate of English star David Beckham when the Real Madrid playmaker joins the Major League Soccer club in July after his contract with the Spanish side expires.
Xavier, 34, failed to reach new contract terms with Middlesbrough. He rejoined Boro last November after serving a one-year drugs ban, having originally signed for the club in August 2005.
"Abel brings immense experience and a wonderful personality to our team," Galaxy president and general manager Alexi Lalas said. "He's a great defender, and we're excited that he's coming to LA."
Xavier tested positive for dianabol, a steroid favoured by body-builders, after a UEFA Cup match against Skoda Xanthi FC in Greece in September 2005.
He was banned by UEFA for 18 months - subsequently reduced to one year on appeal to the Court of Arbritration for Sport - and had his contract at Middlesbrough cancelled.
Xavier, who returned to the club last summer and won himself a short-term deal, has claimed the steroid must have got into his system as a result of medication he was taking for a virus at the time of the positive test.
Xavier also has spent time in the Premiership with Everton (1999-2001) and Liverpool (2001-03) and has played in Germany, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey during his 17-year professional career.
"Soccer is my life and I'm excited to continue my career in LA," Xavier said. "Soccer in the United States continues to grow and I'm proud to be a part of it. I'm coming to win."
Xavier is eligible to make his team debut once the secondary MLS transfer period starts on June 15. "This is a terrific signing for us and he will bring so much experience, leadership and ability to the team," Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said. "People of his quality are not often available for us to sign, so we are really happy that he is going to join us."