Updated: Thursday, 30 January 2014 04:13 | By Agence France-Presse

Russia denies Olympians' involvement in failed dope tests

Russian officials on Wednesday said they were confident that none of their Olympic team were implicated after it emerged that three biathletes representing Russia and Lithuania had been provisionally suspended for doping.

Russia denies Olympians' involvement in failed dope tests

Biathletes compete in Sochi on March 10, 2013 - by Kirill Kudryavtsev

The International Biathlon Federation (IBU) announced the suspensions after the athletes' A samples tested positive for banned substances.

However, they did not give the names of the athletes, the date or location of their positive tests.

"I have no idea which of our biathletes could test positive. I'm confident that it doesn't concern our Olympic team, which is under total control," Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutko told local press.

Meanwhile, the manager of the Russian women's biathlon team insisted that all members of his squad were clean.

"The doping case is a big blow and an extremely unpleasant surprise for me," Wolfgang Pichler told Russian press.

"I can say for sure that the athletes of my group are clean," added Pichler, who has six women on his team for the Games in Olga Zaitseva, Olga Vilukhina, Irina Starykh, Ekaterina Shumilova, Yana Romanova and Ekaterina Glazyrina.

The comments from Mutko and Pichler came after the International Biathlon Federation (IBU) announced the suspensions but did not reveal what their samples had tested positive for.

"Four adverse analytical findings were obtained in samples of three IBU athletes from Russia and Lithuania," said the IBU statement.

"The outcome of the test showed the presence of a non-specific substance. According to the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) Code, the IBU therefore provisionally suspended the respective athletes from any IBU competitions until the decision of the Anti–Doping Hearing Panel is reached.

"The respective athletes were all suspended provisionally, pending the IBU Anti–Doping Hearing Panel's decision. 

"Due to the upcoming Olympic Winter Games 2014 in Sochi, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) was informed accordingly."

The Olympics begin in just 10 days time in Sochi, Russia.

The Russian Biathlon Federation announced on Wednesday an emergency meeting of its anti-doping commission, while Russia's own anti-doping agency (RUSADA) refused to comment on the case.

The last big doping scandal in biathlon in 2008/09 involved Russian athletes Ekaterina Iourieva, Albina Akhatova and Dimitri Yaroshenko testing positive for the banned blood booster EPO. All three received two-year bans.

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