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Athletes lose early chance over blood levels

February 15, 2010 14:48 IST

Two Olympic athletes lost chances of early golds when they were prevented from competing after blood tests at the Winter Games returned high haemoglobin levels.

Nordic combined athlete Niyaz Nabeev, of Russia, and Estonian cross-country skier Kaspar Kokk will not be allowed to compete from Feb 12-16, the international ski federation (FIS) said on Sunday, after the pre-competition blood tests.

Nabeev's "start prohibition" meant he missed Sunday's Normal Hill Nordic Combined event. He is also due to compete in the Long Hill Nordic Combined, training for which begins on February 19.

Kokk will miss the 15km cross country event which is due to take place on Monday. He will next be eligible to compete in the men's individual sprint on Wednesday.

The "start prohibition" is not a sanction, FIS said in its report, but is in order to protect the health of the athlete.

The athletes will need to pass a fresh test before they can be cleared to compete.

Athletes with high haemoglobin levels are not necessarily doing anything wrong. Some have naturally high levels while others may be dehydrated.

As a precaution, FIS routinely suspends skiers with high levels. FIS said 304 athletes have been tested so far.

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