Ekaterina Yourieva (RUS) became the world champion in the 15 k at the 2008 World Championships in Östersund, Sweden. She delivered outstanding results throughout the championships, and hauled home a silver medal in the pursuit and a bronze medal in the mass start. Only a few months later, during the 2008-2009 season opener at the same venue, the Russian biathlete tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO.
While waiting for her B sample to be analyzed, Yourieva trained and competed throughout January and began her preparations for the World Championships in South Korea as the unrightfully defending World Cup leader. When her B sample also tested positive for EPO, Yourieva was suspended, along with fellow Russian biathletes Albina Akhatova and Dmitry Yaroshenko.
Yourieva’s results from the early 2008-09 season were eliminated from the records, and her suspension lasts until the end of December 2010, according to ESPN.com. An appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) was unsuccessful. And due to the strict doping rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the three Russian athletes will not be able to compete in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi (RUS).
Yourieva, now 27 years old, has maintained her blog with the Russian sports web site sports.ru throughout her suspension, and now she just announced that she is aiming for a comeback to biathlon.
“I feel that it will be difficult to return to biathlon because I don’t want to disappoint the fans and those who like biathlon. It will be hard to perform well from the start,” Yourieva says in her blog post.
Yourieva reports that she trains slightly differently than she used to, but that her training is going well, and that she is happy that the former Norwegian women’s coach Knut Tore Berland now is consulting with the Russian team.
“I like that he helps our team. I’m glad they have connected with such an accomplished and experienced specialist,” Yourieva says.
From Strafferunden.no, September 28, 2010 By Ole Kristian Stoltenberg, translation by Inge Scheve
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.