Winter olympics — SOCHI 2014Saturday, February 22, 2014
Two doping cases hit Games
Germany’s two-times Olympic cross-country skiing champion Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Italian police officer and four-man bobsledder William Frullani were thrown out of the Olympics after testing positive for drugs.
SOCHI, Russia — Two athletes tested positive for banned substances yesterday in the Sochi Olympics’ first doping cases, but an emotional gold for crisis-torn Ukraine and ice hockey victory for Canada over the United States ensured sporting action had the final say.
There will be few more popular winners at Russia’s first Winter Games than the women’s biathlon relay team from Ukraine, who edged out the hosts at the end of a week when anti-government protests had left at least 77 people dead.
A Ukrainian skier had already pulled out of Sochi in protest at President Viktor Yanukovich’s handling of the crisis, and other athletes from the team said they struggled to focus as their country went up in flames.
“When I was on the podium I couldn’t stop crying. I tried to calm down and was trying to hide it behind my skis. They were tears of happiness, not only mine, but of the whole country, our team,” team member Valj Semerenko told reporters.
“We are so happy that the people of Ukraine are happy back home and that something good happened for our country,” added Olga Pidhrushna.
Ukraine’s only other Winter Olympic gold medal was won by figure skater Oksana Baiul in the women’s individual event at the Lillehammer Games in 1994.
In the big ice hockey clash, Canada once again prevailed over arch-rivals the United States in their semifinal at the futuristic Bolshoy Ice Dome, denying the US revenge for the final of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
A single goal was the thin dividing line between the sides in the end. Jamie Benn, charging toward the slot, redirected Jay Bouwmeester’s low shot past a helpless Jonathan Quick.
In the other semifinal, Sweden beat Finland 2-1, and it meets the Canadians in the final event of the Games tomorrow evening played just hours before the closing ceremony.
In the short track speed skating, Russia’s Viktor Ahn added two more golds to his impressive tally in the men’s 5,000 metres relay and the individual 500 metres events.
It takes his Olympic gold medal haul to six, three for South Korea and three for his adopted country Russia.
His feat propelled Russia to second in the overall medals table with nine golds, one behind Norway.
The intensity on the field of play was a welcome tonic on a day when two athletes were thrown out of Sochi for doping.
German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, a two-times Olympic champion at cross country, tested positive for a banned stimulant and was sent home.
The 33-year-old, who also has three Olympic cross country silvers to her name, narrowly missed out on medals in Sochi, coming fourth in both the 12.5km mass start and the mixed relay.
“This is the worst nightmare you could imagine,” she said. “I can’t explain to myself at all how the doping test could be positive.”
At around the same time, Italian officials announced that bobsleigh athlete William Frullani, a policeman, also tested positive for a banned substance and was excluded from the team.
The announcements came as the Olympics were still reeling from a judging scandal in the women’s figure skating late on Thursday that threatened to take some of the gloss off the host nation’s first-ever gold in the event.
Adelina Sotnikova, who few expected to be among the medals before the contest began, beat favourite Kim Yuna late on Thursday, despite the South Korean defending champion producing a performance many viewers deemed superior.
In the men’s 5,000 metres short track speed skating final, the United States finished second to claim their only medal in either short track or traditional long track speed skating at the Sochi Olympics.