Pragelato, ITA â€” Sean Crooks, a member of the Canadian Olympic Cross-Country Team, was issued a five-day start prohibition on Thursday after pre-competition blood testing carried out by the FIS revealed a hemoglobin level slightly above international standards; however, his planned competition starts at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games do not stand to be affected.
â€œSean is recognized in our program as having a naturally high hemoglobin level, an average that places him just below the threshold of 17.0 for men,â€ said Al Maddox, executive director of Cross Country Canada. â€œThe fact that today’s sample was taken following a long training session was unfortunate. The dehydrated state will often produce a higher reading.â€
The pre-screening of all registered competitors for hemoglobin levels is part of standard FIS anti-doping control procedures, and is implemented as a precautionary health measure. Crooks was one of eight cross-country skiers issued a prohibition, which the FIS said in a statement is undertaken â€œto protect the health of the athlete.â€
Testing on Thursday produced a hemoglobin value of 17.1 for Crooks, a shade above the FIS threshold for male competitors. The 22-year-old native of Thunder Bay, Ont. has displayed a naturally high level in past testing, averaging 16.7 in 2002-03 when measured at low altitude and using five separate tests over that season.
In two days of testing this week, 224 cross-country and Nordic combined athletes were measured for hemoglobin levels. The other cross-country skiers issued a five-day start prohibition on Thursday were Americans Kikkan Randall and Leif Zimmerman, Sergey Dalidovich and Aleksandr Latzukin on Belarus, France’s Jean Marc Gaillard, Russia’s Natalia Matveeva and Germany’s Evi Sachenbacher.
A follow-up procedure will be conducted on Monday, February 13, to re-test the hemoglobin levels of the eight cross-country ski athletes.
â€œBoth Sean and the coaching staff are confident he will pass the follow-up test on Monday,â€ said Maddox.
Source: Cross Country Canada