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Olympic champ banned from Tour de Ski

AAP logoAAP 30/12/2016

Olympic champion Alexander Legkov and five other Russian cross-country skiers remain provisionally suspended in connection with a doping probe and have been ruled out of the upcoming Tour de Ski in Switzerland.

The ruling body FIS made the announcement on Friday, saying its doping panel took the unanimous decision to uphold the provisional suspensions of the Russian cross country athletes, Evgeniy Belov, Julia Ivanova, Alexander Legkov, Evgenia Shapovalova, Alexey Petukhov and Maxim Vylegzhanin.

The six athletes were suspended on December 22 after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) opened disciplinary proceedings against 28 Russian athletes who competed at the Sochi 2014 Olympics.

Investigations started after WADA investigator Richard McLaren said in a report published on December 9 that more than 1000 Russian athletes were implicated in wide-ranging doping practices, which included tampering with samples at the Sochi Games.

The FIS said the reasons for the doping panel decision will be communicated directly to the athletes in due course.

The German lawyer for Legkov and Belov, Christof Wischemann, said in a e-mailed statement that the FIS did not want to decide on their suspension without conducting a hearing for which a date is yet to be set.

The athletes have protested their innocence and it can not be ruled out that they were personally unaware of the practices.

All Russian samples from Sochi, and other Games, are being retested. Two biathletes and four skeleton sliders have been provisionally suspended by now alongside the six cross-country skiers.

Legkov won Sochi gold in the 50-kilometre event and relay silver, and is a Tour de Ski champion from 2013. Vylegzhanin won three silvers, and Petukhoiv is a sprint world champion from 2013.

The Tour de Ski starts on Saturday in Val Mustair, Switzerland, and runs until January 8.

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