Updated: Friday, 21 February 2014 22:27 | By Agence France-Presse

Sochi Games hit by first doping shock

A German athlete at the Winter Olympics, reportedly a double gold-medal winning female biathlete, has failed a doping test in the first such case of the 2014 Sochi Games, officials said Friday.


Sochi Games hit by first doping shock

Germany's Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle leaves the shooting range in the Women's Biathlon 12.5 km Mass Start at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center on February 17, 2014 - by Alberto Pizzoli

The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) said it had been informed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the "A" sample "of a member of the German Olympic team produced a result that diverged from the norm".

The "B" sample is to be tested on Friday while the IOC's disciplinary commission will meet to discuss the issue, the DOSB said in a statement on its website.

It gave no details on the name or sport of the athlete, or whether the test had been carried out at the Games or before.

Bur Germany's ARD public television channel named the athlete as biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, who has won two gold medals at previous Olympic Games.

The news that a well known athlete has failed a doping test has caused shock waves in Germany, which for years has prided itself on its tough anti-doping fight.

The IOC confirmed the content of the German statement but said no further information would be given until the investigation is over.

- Double gold medal winner -

Sachenbacher-Stehle, 33, spent most of her long career as a cross country skier before switching last season to biathlon, which mixes both cross country skiing and shooting.

It was as a cross country skier that she won gold in the 4x5 km relay in the Salt Lake City Games of 2002 and then gold in the team sprint in Vancouver 2010.

Sachenbacher-Stehle already hit controversy at the Turin Olympics of 2006 when she and several other athletes were given a five-day ban from competition due to excessive levels of haemogloblin.

She argued that the finding was due to a genetic condition and not due to doping.

At Sochi 2014, Sachenbacher-Stehle's best results were fourth place in the women's mass start and also fourth place in the women's relay.

She had announced last night on her Facebook page that she had not been included in the women's biathlon relay Friday. She has written no more public messages since.

"It is sad for all of us and a shock," the head coach of Germany's national cross country team Frank Ullrich told AFP's German sports subsidiary SID.

-'We will get you' -

The last Winter Olympics in Vancouver 2010 produced only one positive doping test in the course of the Games.

Olympics chiefs believe they are winning in the fight against doping, after the Salt Lake City Games of 2002 and the Turin Games of 2006 produced seven positive tests apiece.

The IOC, which oversees drug testing at the Olympic Games, is carrying out almost 2,500 drug tests at Sochi 2014 with an extra emphasis on out-of-competition tests.

The Russian team was hit by a major scandal on the eve of the Sochi Games when one of its top female biathletes, Irina Starykh, withdrew from the Olympics when an "A" sample tested positive for an unspecified banned substance.

The biggest doping scandal at a Winter Olympics was in Salt Lake City in 2002, where German-born Spanish cross-country skier Johann Muehlegg won three golds but tested positive for banned blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO). He was later stripped of all his medals.

IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist earlier in the Games warned athletes that a new 10-year period of storing samples and increasingly sophisticated methods meant there was nowhere for cheats to hide.

"The message to athletes is that if you cheat and if we don’t find you now, we may find you later. But we will certainly find you sooner or later," he said.

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