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Six athletes suspended for 5 days of Nordic Worlds

2/22/2007

SAPPORO, Japan -- The International Ski Federation suspended
six athletes for the first five days of the Nordic World Ski
Championships because of high hemoglobin levels.

The six athletes can compete in the meet that opened Thursday if
they clear a second test. The high hemoglobin levels were detected
in pre-competition blood testing.

Nordic combined competitors Voronin Konstantin and Dmitry
Matveev of Russia and Jochen Strobl of Italy were suspended along
with cross-country skiers Alen Abramovic of Croatia, Sergei
Dolidovich of Belarus and Reto Burgermeister of Switzerland.

The suspensions aren't a punishment and imposed to protect the
athletes' health, the federation said. No disciplinary measures
will be taken based on the tests.

At the Turin Olympics last year, several cross-country skiers
served suspensions for high hemoglobin levels. Even though they
were later cleared to compete, the test results raised the
possibility of blood doping with synthetic hemoglobin or
transfusions.