Julia Chepalova's suspension upheld

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Three-time Olympic cross-country skiing champion Julia Chepalova lost her appeal to sport's highest court against a two-year doping ban for EPO.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said in a ruling released Friday that the International Ski Federation was right to ban Chepalova after she tested positive for the blood-boosting hormone at a Tour de Ski race last year at Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Her case helped lead to the International Olympic Committee and FIS warning Russia about its dismal doping record.

Chepalova's suspension will expire in August 2011. It prevented her from seeking a fourth straight gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games, and the IOC's anti-doping rules bar Chepalova from competing at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Chepalova picked up gold at three straight Winter Olympics from 1998 to 2006.

She was among several Russian skiers and biathletes caught using EPO before the Vancouver Olympics, forcing IOC president Jacques Rogge to alert Russia president Dmitry Medvedev that his country must improve its anti-doping program.

In June, the skiing governing body set a Nov. 1 deadline for Russia's ski federation to clean up its act or face its skiers being barred from the Sochi Games.

Chepalova's coach and father, Anatoly Chepalov, was among several officials FIS ordered be fired from the national team. FIS also fined Russia's federation $180,000 by withholding half of its statutory annual funding.