MOSCOW, January 29 (R-Sport) – A biathlete from the Russian Olympic team has failed a doping test as next month's Sochi Games loom, Russian sports website Championat.com reported Wednesday.
Sprint specialist Irina Starykh, 26, has emerged from obscurity over the last two years to become a leading light in the biathlon World Cup and a medal contender for the February 7-23 Sochi Olympics in Russia. She is one of two Russian athletes named in the report.
Starykh was a prominent junior athlete in the mid-2000s, but missed four years of elite competition before debuting in the World Cup last year. She is sixth in the women's overall World Cup table this season with two individual podium finishes and one relay win.
The report also named 2008 world champion Ekaterina Iourieva as having failed a test. The 30-year-old Russian was not selected for Sochi despite strong World Cup showings in recent seasons.
Iourieva was suspended for two years in 2009 when she tested positive for blood-booster EPO and missed the 2010 Vancouver Olympics as a result.
There was no word on the nature of any banned substance discovered in the alleged tests on Starykh and Iourieva, nor when the samples were supposedly taken.
Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko declined to comment on the report.
"I haven't heard about this. I don't have information of that kind," he said. "Maybe I've missed something, but it hasn't been reported to me ... I don't know which of our biathletes could have been caught."
Russia was caught up in the last major Olympic biathlon doping scandal in 2006, when the silver medalist in the women's 15-kilometer individual race, Olga Pyleva, now known as Olga Medvedtseva, tested positive for the stimulant carphedon. She was banned for two years and stripped of her medal.
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