Belgian world champion mountain biker Filip Meirhaeghe pulled out of the Olympics and announced his retirement yesterday after testing positive for a banned substance.

Meirhaeghe said he tested positive for the blood-boosting EPO erythropoietin before a mountain bike cross-country World Cup race June 27 in Canada. He won the race, moving to second place in the overall World Cup rankings.

"I took EPO for the first time seven weeks ago in Austria. I absolutely didn't want to miss the Olympics, they were my ultimate target," he was quoted by the Belga news agency as saying. "I went through a tough period, that's why I took it. It was the wrong decision, but I'm only human."

Meirhaeghe, a silver medalist in Sydney four years ago, was one of Belgium's top medal hopes.

IAAF Ratifies Records

The 5,000-meter world records set by Kenenisa Bekele and Elvan Abeylegesse, and the women's pole vault mark set by Yelena Isinbayeva were ratified by track and field's governing body, the IAAF.

Bekele ran the 5,000 in 12 minutes 37.35 seconds in Hengelo, the Netherlands, on May 31, beating Haile Gebrselassie's June 1998 record by two seconds.

Abeylegesse bettered the women's 5,000 mark in Bergen, Norway, on June 11, finishing in 14:24.68, four seconds faster than Bo Jiang ran in June 1997.

Isinbayeva's record pole vault of 15 feet 113/4 inches came in Gateshead, England, on June 27. Since then, the record has been broken twice: by Svetlana Feofanova, who cleared 16 feet in Iraklion, Greece, on July 4, and by Isinbayeva, who cleared 16-1/2 in Birmingham, England, on Sunday.