OlympicsRacingRestriction not expected to affect Crooks starts at the Olympics

FasterSkier FasterSkierFebruary 10, 2006

Pragelato, ITA — 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.

“Sean 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,” said Al Maddox, executive director of Cross Country Canada. “The fact that today’s sample was taken following a long training session was unfortunate. The dehydrated state will often produce a higher reading.”

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 “to protect the health of the athlete.”

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.

“Both Sean and the coaching staff are confident he will pass the follow-up test on Monday,” said Maddox.

Source: Cross Country Canada

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