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IOC seeks straight dope, action on widespread Russian doping

February 8, 2010 |  5:09 pm

VANCOUVER, Canada -- International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge is concerned enough about doping among Russian biathletes and cross-country skiers that he has raised the issue with Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev.

``We have alerted the Russian authorities, and we expect them to comply,'' Rogge said.

But Rogge said there was nothing he could do about the black eye created by having the only athlete to test positive at the 2006 Olympics back in competition at the 2010 Games.

Biathlete Olga Medvedtseva was known by her previous husband's name, Pyleva, four years ago, when she lost a silver medal in the 15-kilometer individual race and was suspended two years for use of a stimulant.

In 2007, the IOC decided that an athlete banned from one Olympics could not compete in the next.  Rogge said that could not be applied retroactively.

Eight Russian biathletes and cross-country skiers have been banned for doping since the end of the 2009 World Cup season.

In the past week, Canadian Nordic ski officials have been outspoken in suggesting the Russians have done little to stop the repetitive doping problems and that some Russian medals here could be tainted.

``We have indeed been alerted by the number of positive cases,'' Rogge said.  ``I had a meeting with the Russian minister of sport, and he said to us he would do everything in his power to improve the situation.  I also had a meeting with the president of Russia, and I insisted on the need to have strong action on doping.  He promised he would launch that, and he was very explicit also in public declarations after that.''

Max Cobb, the president of the U.S. Biathlon federation, remains very concerned about the problem but sees signs of progress.

``I was glad to see their cross-country skier [Alena Sidko] nabbed in internal testing,'' Cobb said.  ``They are stepping things up internally for the first time.

``We need the Russian Olympic Committee and Russian biathlon federation to take anti-doping efforts seriously.''

Sidko, 30, a silver medalist in 2006, has been banned by Russian ski officials after testing positive for eryhthropoietin (EPO), a drug that boosts oxygen-carrying capacity.

The Russians will be trying to avoid further embarrassment, since they will have the Winter Games in Russia (Sochi) for the first time four years from now.

-- Philip Hersh

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