Cross-Country Skier Tests Positive For EPO

Johannes Duerr, Austrian cross-country skier, has been kicked out of the Sochi 2014 games after he tested positive for EPO, according to Austria's Olympic committee. This is the fifth doping case of the Sochi Winter Olympics and the first involving the blood-boosting drug EPO.

Johannes Duerr

At a news conference on the final day of the 2014 Games, Austrian Olympic Committee President Karl Stoss said it is a black day for us. Stoss added that the athlete was informed and educated about their rights, his accreditation was removed and the immediate exclusion from the Olympic team was completed. Duerr has already started the journey home.

The 26-year-old Duerr, after finishing eights in the men's skiathlon on February 9, flew back to Austria for training and tested positive for an EPO preparation on February 16. The cross-country skier then made a return to Sochi and was scheduled to participate in the 50- kilometer mass start, but was withdrawn because of the positive test.

 EPO, known for increasing endurance and stamina, is used by athletes to improve red blood cells that carry oxygen to the muscles.

During the Sochi Games, four other cases (Latvian hockey player Vitalijs Pavlovs, Ukrainian cross-country skier Marina Lisogor, German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, and Italian bobsledder William Frullani) involved minor stimulants that can be found in food supplements. Lisogor tested positive for trimetazidine and remarked she had been taking medication for a thyroid condition but said she “forgot to declare” the drug on her doping form. A former two-time Olympic gold medalist, Sachenbacher-Stehle, tested positive for Methylhexaneamine, while Frullani tested positive for dimetylpentylamine.

IOC President Thomas Bach said the new positive drug cases showed that the zero-tolerance policy is working. Bach remarked for him it was never a question of the numbers and how many and added he thinks it shows we are on the right track. The beefed-up testing is working and catching violators, IOC President Thomas Bach said. The International Olympic Committee is conducting 2,453 drug tests in Sochi, a record for the Winter Games.

At the 2006 Turin Olympics, Austrian cross-country and biathlon teams were at the center of a major doping scandal. Acting on a tip, Italian police raid the team lodgings and seized blood doping equipment and other substances. No Austrian tested positive at the Turin Games but many of them were later banned for life by the International Olympic Committee.

Stoss remarked of the team's response to Turin games that we applied all the measures needed and it's a great pity that after all successful participations of the Austrian team we have had this case of doping. He added we will do everything that is needed of us to prevent this in future but of course we can't say there will not be one. The EPO test of Duerr comes after an Olympics in which the Austrians won 17 medals going into the final day. The Austrian Olympic Committee President Stoss remarked this was really good work made by our team and added the athlete himself confessed that he is the only one who did that and he takes all the responsibility on himself.


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