Updated: Saturday, 22 February 2014 03:59 | By Agence France-Presse

Two athletes expelled for doping from Sochi Games

A double gold-medal winning German female biathlete and an Italian bobsledder were expelled from the Sochi Olympics Friday after testing positive for banned substances, in the first doping cases of these Games.


Two athletes expelled for doping from Sochi Games

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

German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, who had won two gold medals at previous Olympic Games, confirmed she had tested positive, describing it as the "worst nightmare you can imagine".

Meanwhile, the Italian Olympic Committee said it had thrown Italian bobsledder William Frullani out of the Games after he tested positive for a banned substance.

The news that a well-known athlete as Sachenbacher-Stehle, 33, failed a doping test has caused shock waves in Germany, which for years has prided itself on its tough anti-doping fight.

"I cannot explain how this positive doping test came about," Sachenbacher-Stehle said in a statement, adding that she had had all her dietary supplements tested in a laboratory.

Reports said that the positive test -- carried out on February 17 -- may have come about due to contamination from imported energy bars.

"I am living through the worst nightmare that you can imagine," she added.

"I can only assure everyone that I have never knowingly taken a banned substance and will do everything to clear this up so there are no questions," she added.

Frullani, 34, tested positive on February 18 for the banned substance dymetylpentylamine.

"It's a victory for imprudence, irrationality and stupidity," said the president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Giovanni Malago. "I hope it's a lesson for everyone."

He said Frullani -- a former international-level decathlete -- had "at best been extremely silly."

"It's very unpleasant, but it's something that totally defies logic and just doesn't fit with the kind of athlete he is," Malago added.

- 'A great disappointment' -

The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) said in a statement that both Sachenbacher-Stehle's 'A' and 'B' samples had tested positive for the stimulant methylhexanamin.

"In line with her athlete's agreement, she has been expelled from the German Olympic team," it said.

She was escorted out of Sochi to the airport by German officials immediately after attending an IOC disciplinary commission at a Sochi hotel.

"Every doping case is a great disappointment. But it is also proof that the control system works," said Germany's chef-de-mission Michael Vesper.

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

German's national biathlon coach Uwe Muessiggang expressed fear that suspicion would now spread to the whole German team. "People will say, 'it's the Germans'" he said.

But her brother Josef told the mass-circulation daily Bild: "She has nothing to reproach herself for. She despises this (doping) and would never dope."

German Justice Minister Heiko Mass however told Bild that doping offenders should face jail sentences of up to five years.

Reports said that there had been a third positive doping test from an athlete of another nationality but this has yet to be confirmed.

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

Olympics chiefs have said they believe they are winning 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.

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