Saturday, April 20, 2002 - Latest News
Lazutina Positive Before Olympics

PARIS (AP) -- Russian cross-country skier Larissa Lazutina, who was stripped of an Olympic gold medal after testing positive for a banned substance at Salt Lake City, failed a drugs test performed in December, a French newspaper reported Wednesday.

Lazutina tested positive for darbepoetin after winning the 30-kilometre classical race at Salt Lake. She lost her gold medal for that event but was allowed to keep two silver medals from two other races, including the pursuit. Beckie Scott of Vermilion, B.C., won the bronze in that event.

French sports daily L'Equipe reported that Lazutina also tested positive for darbepoetin in a December test carried out as part of an anti-drugs program by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Ski Federation.

Darbepoetin acts like EPO in boosting production of oxygen-rich red blood cells, increasing endurance.

L'Equipe said Lazutina's December sample was tested in a laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, but that a FIS investigation only confirmed the presence of darbepoetin "a few days ago."

An IOC official said that if the FIS confirms that Lazutina failed a drugs test carried out before the Olympics, she could face being stripped of her two silver medals from the Winter Games.

"If the FIS takes a retroactive decision, it could affect her results from the the Games in Salt Lake," Patrick Schamasch, director of the IOC's medical commission, told AP. "Then we'd have to review the situation."

Lazutina has appealed against her disqualification in the 30-kilometre race to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

A FIS spokeswoman, Sarah Lewis, said the federation had no information to give at this stage and doping association chief Dick Pound of Montreal told an Associated Press reporter that he was unaware of the new test result.

Initial attempts to reach officials at the Russian Ski Federation by telephone were unsuccessful.

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