Reuters - Tue, 30 Mar 16:17:00 2010
Twice Russian cross-country skiing champion Liliya Stepanova has received a two-year doping ban for manipulating a drug test.
Russia's chief coach Yuri Charkovsky said the 25-year-old had tried to circumvent the rules by asking another skier to submit the samples on her behalf after winning two gold medals at last week's national championships in the northern city of Syktyvkar.
"We were all quite surprised when Stepanova won two golds," Charkovsky said.
"We became suspicious and found out it was another athlete who pretended to be Stepanova and tried to submit urine samples on her behalf.
"Stepanova's coach also tried to play his part in the cover-up but soon we were able to discover the true facts," added Charkovsky.
"The executive board then disqualified the athlete and banned her for two years. Next month we will make a decision on the coach and his role in the whole incident."
Several leading Russian cross-country skiers, including triple Olympic champion Julija Tchepalova and 2006 Olympic gold medalist Yevgeny Dementiev, have tested positive for the blood-booster EPO in recent months.
Seven other top Russian female athletes, including twice world 1,500 metres champion Tatyana Tomashova and world indoor 1,500 metres champion Yelena Soboleva, were handed two-year doping bans for manipulating their drug samples in 2008.