Three North Americans, Kikkan Randall, Leif Zimmerman, and Sean Crooks, were today issued with a start prohibition for five consecutive days due to too high hemoglobin values. The FIS says that this prohibition is not a sanction, but is to protect the health of the athletes.
We stress that this is NOT a positive drug test.
As we understand the rules, this means that they are ineligible for the pursuit race on Sunday but will be eligible for all remaining Olympic races, provided that subsequent tests show lower, legal values. We are unsure if these athletes were even slated to start the pursuit. If not, this may not affect their Olympic racing at all.
Added on Feb 10:Today four more athletes were given start prohibitions, including Robel Teklemarian who lives in the United States and competed in the SuperTour, but is racing in the Olympics for Ethiopia.
Some Olympic skiers, such as Germany's Jens Filbrich, have been granted dispensation to race with high hemoglobin levels after proving that their levels are normally high. However, it can take at least a month to receive such an exemption and is supposed to be done prior to the competition season. German skier Evi Sachenbacher, who was denied dispensation earlier this year, was also among those who are now prohibited from starting.
FIS Press relase:
Torino 2006: Eight start prohibitions issued due to too high haemoglobin values registered in FIS pre-Olympic testing
Pragelato, 9 th Feb, 2006/ — In the course of the pre-competition blood testing carried out by FIS in Torino whereby all Cross-Country and Nordic Combined Athletes will be tested prior to their first competition at the Olympic Winter Games, the following athletes have today been issued with a start prohibition for five consecutive days due to too high haemoglobin values:
Sean Crooks (CAN), male
Sergey Dalidovich (BLR), male
Jean Marc Gaillard (FRA), male
Aleksandr Latzukin (BLR), male
Natalia Matveeva (RUS), female
Kikkan Randall (USA), female
Evi Sachenbacher (GER), female
Leif Zimmermann (USA), male
Added on Feb 10:
Pragelato, 10 Feb, 2006/ — On the third day of the FIS pre-competition blood testing programme applicable to all Cross-Country and Nordic Combined Athletes prior to their first competition at the XX Olympic Winter Games, the following four athletes have today been issued with a start prohibition for five consecutive days due to too high haemoglobin values:
Start prohibition 10.2. – 14.2.2006 Alen Abramovic (CRO), male Pavel Korosteljev (RUS), male Nikolai Pankratov (RUS), male Robel Teklemariam (ETH), male
This prohibition from participating in the competition(s) is not a sanction, but is considered to serve to protect the health of the Athlete. Consequently, no disciplinary measures will be taken.
In the two days of testing, 224 Athletes have been tested. The total number of Cross-Country and Nordic Combined Athletes participating in the XX Olympic Winter Games is 330 and 63, respectively.
A start prohibition results from the process that is defined in the Article B.4.2 of the Procedural Guidelines to the FIS Anti-Doping Rules: â€œIf an Athlete shows a haemoglobin value that is equal to or exceeds the values of 16.0 g/dl for ladies and 17.0 g/dl for men after two consecutive measurements, the Athlete will be notified by the representative of the Jury that he/she is not allowed to start any competitions for five consecutive days, including the day on which the test took place: e.g. if the blood test takes place on Monday the Athlete will not be permitted to start again until Saturday (and then only subject to the results of a new blood test, as defined in Article B.4.5).â€
In cases where Athletes have natural haemoglobin values that exceed the limits of 16.0 g/dl for ladies and 17.0 g/dl for men, they are required to provide certification for review by a specialist appointed by the FIS before the start of each season, respectively their first competition. This certification must come from an officially recognised Haematological Department and contain the Athlete’s full history and haematological profile from an early age in life.
For the 2005/2006 season, six athletes have been granted a dispensation from the FIS Hb rule for the entire season, whilst six additional athletes have been granted a temporary dispensation valid for a defined period of time including the Olympic Winter Games.
To download a copy of the FIS Procedural Guidelines 2005/2006 to the FIS Anti-Doping Rules, please go to: http://www.fis-ski.com/data/document/fis-proceduralguidelines20052006.pdf