Russian biathlete becomes first doping case in Turin Olympics

Updated: February 17, 2006, 12:17 PM ET
Associated Press

TURIN, Italy -- Russian biathlon star Olga Pyleva, already tossed from the Turin Games and stripped of her silver medal for a positive drug test, was banned for two years Friday and will be investigated under Italy's criminal anti-doping law.

The 30-year-old Pyleva tested positive for the stimulant carphedon and was expelled Thursday from the games, the first athlete caught in the tightest drug net in Winter Olympics history. She attended a meeting of the International Biathlon Union in a Turin suburb Friday, where the two-year ban was announced.

"It was not a difficult case," said Anders Besseberg, president of the IBU. "It's a positive doping case."

The IOC threw Pyleva out of the Olympics on Thursday and has turned over documents to Italian magistrates in accordance with Italian law, said Mario Pescante, IOC member and government supervisor for the games. She was scheduled to fly back to Russia later in the day, said Russian biathlon team doctor Andrey Dmytriev.

"Like every foreigner who commits a crime in Italy, she can go back to her country because the criminal process against her hasn't begun yet," Pescante said. He said she could still be called in to testify at some point.

The silver Pyleva won in Monday's 15km event now goes to Germany's Martina Glagow. The bronze falls to Albina Akhatova, Pyleva's Russian teammate.

"I'm satisfied that they've found out," Glagow said, "but it's sad to discover things like this."

Russian officials at the Olympics explained that a doctor treating Pyleva for an ankle injury in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk gave her an over-the-counter medication in January that did not list the banned substance.

"I am sorry that I shattered my reputation," Pyleva said Friday. "Now I am sure that international athletes will change their opinion about me."

The IBU also banned Pyleva's personal physician, Dr. Nina Vinogradova, for two years. Vinogradova said Friday she is considering suing the manufacturer of the medication in question, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

"Neither in the instructions or in the annotations of the preparation are any banned components listed," Vinogradova told the agency. "I was absolutely certain it was clean."

Fatherland Medications, the pharmaceutical group that manufactures the medicine, said the company was not at fault and had not tried to disguise carphedon's presence.

Under the IOC's rules, athletes testing positive at the Olympics are considered guilty if a banned substance is found, regardless of the circumstances. Durmanov said no appeal was planned at this time.

Pyleva maintained her innocence Thursday.

"In any case, I am not guilty," she said.

Before the Olympics, Pescante had unsuccessfully tried to get parliament to suspend criminal charges for doping offenders during the games. Doping carries a maximum two-year term under Italian law.

The IOC, which favors only sports sanctions, accepted the law and in return was given full control of the testing program.

Pescante has said that offenders would face "administrative sanctions" only and not jail terms, because these can only be imposed after all appeals are exhausted and sentences under two years are usually suspended in any case.

The IOC's role in the matter is over, spokeswoman Giselle Davies said.

"Exclusion from the games is where our sanctions end," she said. "Anything more than that is not up to us."

Pyleva was favored to win her second medal of the games heading into Thursday's 7.5km sprint. As athletes were approaching the starting line, an announcer told the crowd that Pyleva was scratched because she had fallen ill.

Less than two hours after the race went on without her, Pyleva was kicked out of the Turin Games.

Pyleva is one of the biggest stars in biathlon, which typically draws more than 30,000 spectators to World Cup events and is Europe's most popular televised winter sport. She also won gold and bronze medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games in the event that combines cross-country skiing and rifle target shooting.

The IOC has conducted 380 tests since the athletes' village opened Jan. 31; Pyleva is the first to be caught by the most rigorous doping-control program ever at a Winter Olympics. A total of 1,200 samples are being tested -- a 72 percent increase over the number in Salt Lake City, where there were seven doping cases.


Eds: Contributing to this report were: AP Sports writers Arnie Stapleton in Cesana and Steve Wilson in Turin; AP writers Marta Falconi in Rome and Brian Friedman in Turin; and AP Television News producer Paolo Santalucia and cameraman Paolo Lucariello.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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