Thursday, May 9, 2002 - Latest News
Lazutina Out, Scott to get Silver

Beckie Scott, by no choice of her own, has become an alchemist. She will likely turn her Olympic bronze medal into silver, and if there is any justice at all in international sports, that silver will be gold by the end of the summer. The International Ski Federation (FIS) has announced that Russian skier Larissa Lazutina tested positive for blood doping as the result of tests conducted at World Cup races on December 8, and 22, 2001. Under FIS policies, the positive test makes Lazutina ineligible for all subsequent FIS competitions, including the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, where she again tested positive for the same substance.

If the International Olympic Committee (IOC) accepts the FIS ruling, Lazutina will be stripped of all results from the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, including the silver medal won in the women’s 5K pursuit race. Ignoring the FIS ruling is an idea so ridiculous that even the IOC is unlikely to take that route.

The laboratory confirmed a positive “A” Sample in mid-April and the confirming positive ‘B’ sample was reported to the FIS on May 7th. FIS Council will confirm the suspension when that body meets in Portoroz, Slovenia on June 3rd, 2002.

“This announcement is a positive step towards revealing the current situation in cross-country skiing, and I hope that this will be a catalyst for reform”, said Beckie Scott.  She added “to follow through on this and impose appropriate sanctions on the offending athletes is a step in the right direction.”

Cross Country Canada (CCC) will be calling on the FIS Council to treat this matter as a second infraction for Lazutina, and will ask that she be given a lifetime ban from future World Cup and Olympic competition. “The confirmation of a positive “B” sample from an IOC/WADA accredited laboratory gives CCC some confidence in the testing protocol. However, the time delay for getting the “B” sample results is a clear indication that doping control can and should be significantly improved”, stated Léopold Nadeau, President of CCC. “Following the recent doping scandals in our sport, CCC will keep pressure on FIS and WADA to increase the frequency of competition and out of competition testing, as well as to strengthen the analysis protocols,” added Mr Nadeau.

It is likely that the delayed announcement was caused by the relative youth of the substance that Lazutina tested positive for. Darbepoietin, also referred to as Aranesp or NESP, has been available for less than a year, and the laboratories would have had trouble identifying the drug as the cause of any strange urine traits.

“The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) will request confirmation from the IOC that this positive test will result in Larissa Lazutina forfeiting the silver medal in the Women’s 5km pursuit race in favour of Beckie Scott, and that she be disqualified in all other events at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games”, said Michael Chambers, President of the COC. He added “the COC will continue to pursue its appeal to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) in its effort to secure for Beckie Scott the gold medal she deserves and legitimately earned.”

Lazutina also tested positive at the 30km classic race at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, as did Olga Danilova, the Russian winner of the 5K pursuit race. Because these positive tests took place several days after the 5K pursuit race, the two athletes were allowed by the IOC to keep those medals. This decision has been appealed to the International Court for Arbitration in Sport, and is scheduled to be heard later this spring. Regardless of the expected disqualification of Lazutina due to the new doping infraction, the case against Danilova will be pursued.

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