Six athletes suspended for 5 days of Nordic Worlds

Updated: February 22, 2007, 12:44 AM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press