By ERIC WILLEMSEN
2014-02-23 02:42 PM
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) -- Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Duerr has been kicked out of the Sochi Games after testing positive for EPO, the country's Olympic committee said Sunday.
It is the fifth doping case of the Olympics and the first involving the blood-boosting drug EPO.
"It is a black day for us," Austrian Olympic Committee President Karl Stoss said at a news conference on the final day of the 2014 Games.
Duerr finished eighth in the men's skiathlon on Feb. 9 and was tested seven days later in Austria, where he had flown back for training. He returned to Sochi and had been due to compete in the 50-kilometer mass start on Sunday, the final event of the cross-country competition.
"We are shocked by this announcement and took the appropriate measures right away," Stoss said in a statement. "We've told the athlete and informed him about his rights, his accreditation has been pulled and he has been excluded from the Olympic team with immediate effect. Duerr is already on his way home."
It is the first serious doping offense reported during the games. EPO is used to boost red blood cells that carry oxygen to the muscles, increasing stamina and endurance.
The four other cases involved minor stimulants that can be found in food supplements. They involved Latvian hockey player Vitalijs Pavlovs, Ukrainian cross-country skier Marina Lisogor, German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Italian bobsledder William Frullani.
None of the five athletes won medals in Sochi.
The Austrian cross-country and biathlon teams were at the center of a major doping scandal at the 2006 Turin Olympics. Italian police, acting on a tip, raided the team lodgings and seized blood doping equipment and other substances.
No Austrians tested positive at those games, but several were later banned for life by the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC is conducting 2,453 drug tests in Sochi, a record for the Winter Games. The Olympic body also stores doping samples for 10 years to allow for retesting when new methods become available.
There was only one positive test at the previous Winter Olympics four years ago in Vancouver.
IOC President Thomas Bach said the new cases showed that the zero-tolerance policy is working.
"For me it was never a question of the numbers and how many," Bach said Saturday in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think it shows we are on the right track."
AP Sports Writers Graham Dunbar, Stephen Wilson and Chris Lehourites contributed to this report.