By Duncan Mackay in Vancouver

February 14 - Russia's Niyaz Nabeev (pictured) and Estonia's Kaspar Kokk have both returned positive results for high haemoglobin values, the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced here today.


The athletes have not been disciplined as the tests are meant to help protect the health of the athlete but Nabeev, who was due to compete in the Nordic combined, and Kokk, who was scheduled to take part in the cross-country, are prevented from competing until February 16.

It means Nabeev, a 20-year-old from Kazan, misses the individual normal hill and 10 kilometres cross country combined event, which is due to take place today.

He had finished 48th in last year's World Championships.

Nabeev is also due to take part in the individual long hill and 10km event on February 21.

Kokk, a 27-year-old from Tartu, will miss the men's 15km cross country, which is due to be held tomorrow.

He had finished 35th in the event at the Olympics in Turin four years ago.

An FIS statement said: "In the course of the pre-competition blood testing carried out by FIS at the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 whereby all cross-country and Nordic combined athletes will be tested prior to their first Olympic competition, the...athletes have been issued with a start prohibition for five consecutive days due to too high haemoglobin values."

The limit for men 17.0 and women 16.0.

The tests were carried out on Friday (February 12). 

The FIS statement said: "This prohibition from participating in the competition(s) is NOT a sanction, but is instituted to protect the health of the athlete. 

"Consequently, no disciplinary measures will be taken.

"A new blood test is required for the athletes to be allowed to start in their first Olympic competition."

High haemoglobin values are often the result of athletes using banned substances, including the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO), although there is no evidence that in the case in these incidents involving Nabeev and Kokk (pictured).

But the results could also indicate possible illness or health risks.

Under the rules of the FIS, an athlete with haemoglobin concentration that measures equal to or exceeds the values stated above after two consecutive measurements, is according to article FIS.B.4.1 not allowed to start at any competitions for five consecutive days, including the day on which the test took place, and then only subject to the results of a new blood test.

The Russian team will be desperately hoping that Nabeev's positive test is not as a result of doping.

They are already under pressure following a series of failed tests among its nordic skiers, a situation which had led International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge to raise the issue with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The head of the country's anti-doping agency Aleksandr Derevoedov had promised that there would be no scandals at these Games but on the eve of the opening ceremony it was revealed that Russian ice hockey player Svetlana Terenteva had tested positive for a stimulant.

She escaped a suspension because the substance tuaminoheptane out of competition.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected] 

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