MOSCOW (Reuters) - Four Russian cross-country skiers have been banned for life from the Olympics after being found guilty of doping at the 2014 Sochi Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Thursday.
Maxim Vylegzhanin, Alexei Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova and Yulia Ivanova had been “found to have committed anti-doping rule violations,” the IOC said in a statement.
“The four athletes are declared ineligible to be accredited in any capacity of the Games of the Olympiad and the Olympic Winter Games subsequent to the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014,” the IOC said.
The IOC did not reveal the nature of the doping violations and said a fifth unnamed athlete had escaped punishment.
The statement came hours after the Russian cross-country skiing federation announced that the IOC’s decision would see Russia stripped of two silver medals won by Vylegzhanin in the 50km freestyle and the team sprint.
The ruling brings to six the number of Russian cross-country skiers sanctioned this month for violating anti-doping rules as part of an IOC investigation into allegations of widespread doping among Russians and sample tampering by laboratory and security officials at the Sochi Games.
Petukhov, Shapovalova and Ivanova did not win medals in Sochi. Petukhov, twice a world medallist, won bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Games in the team sprint.
Ivanova was part of the Russian team that placed sixth in the relay in Sochi. She also finished 17th in the 10km while Shapovalova finished 19th in the 15km sprint.
Cross-country skiers Alexander Legkov and Evgeniy Belov last week received life bans from the Olympics over doping at Sochi.
Legkov won gold in the 50km and silver in the 4x10km relay event. The IOC said all of Russia’s 4x10km team, which included Vylegzhanin, would be disqualified.
Belov, who competed in the men’s skiathlon 15+15 km mass start event and the 15km classic country skiing event, did not win a medal at Sochi.
The Russian cross-country skiing federation has said it will appeal the IOC’s decisions at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The IOC had also attempted in 2011 to pass the so-called “Osaka rule” where athletes with a doping sanction of six months or longer would be automatically ruled out of the next Games, but that was also blocked by CAS.
The IOC has been re-testing all Russian athletes’ samples from the 2014 Games following revelations by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow’s suspended anti-doping laboratory, of a scheme to cover up home competitors’ positive samples.
The IOC has said it will decide during its executive board meeting being held from Dec. 5-7 on the participation of Russian competitors at the Pyeongchang winter Olympics in February.
Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow, John Miller and Michael Shields in Zurich and Karolos Grohmann in Berlin; Editing by Alison Williams and Ed Osmond