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SKIING

Norway champion Johaug gets two-month doping ban

Norwegian ski world champion Therese Johaug has been given a two-month suspension after testing positive for the anabolic steroid clostebol.

Norway champion Johaug gets two-month doping ban
Therese Johaug gave a tearful explanation for the result at a press conference last week. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB
Anti-Doping Norway said that the suspension was intended to allow time for a more details investigation of the case. 
 
“The reason for the decision is that the prosecution committee is of the opinion that the athlete cannot be said to have acted without fault,” said Anstein Gjengedal, chairman of the committee. “The suspension means that the athlete can not participate in competitions and organised training.” 
 
Johaug said she was willing to accept the suspension .
 
“I’m taking it hard, but but I’m going to respect the suspension,” she said in a press statement issued by the Norwegian Ski Federation. “Now I’m going to concentrate on what’s most important, working for my full acquittal. I look forward to a thorough and complete treatment of the matter as quickly as possible.” 
 
Johaug made a tearful appearance at a press conference last week to announce her positive test result, claiming that the steroid, which was widely used in East Germany’s state-sponsored doping program, had come from a cream given to her by the Norwegian ski team’s doctor to treat a sore on her lips. 
 
In his testimony, Dr Fredrik Bendiksen said that he had bought the ointment Trofodermin at a pharmacy in Livigino, Italy, when the team was doing high altitude training nearby in August. 
 
He claimed not to have checked the packaging, which would have informed him that the cream contains substances banned under anti-doping laws. 
 
Johaug is the world’s best cross country skier, taking three gold medals at the World Championship in Falun, Sweden last winter and winning a gold medal in the 4 x 5 km relay at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. 

NORWAY

PROFILE: Norway’s ‘complete competitor’ Aksel Lund Svindal

Norwegian colossus Aksel Lund Svindal will go down in the annals of alpine skiing as one of the very best after claiming world silver in his farewell downhill race on Saturday.

PROFILE: Norway's 'complete competitor' Aksel Lund Svindal
Aksel Lund Svindal celebrates third place in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images/AFP Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images North America / AFP
Coming in just two-hundredths of a second behind teammate and close friend Kjetil Jansrud was the perfect send-off for the 36-year-old Svindal.
 
Svindal has been one of the stars of the ski circuit with 11 titles (overall-2, downhill-2, superG-5, giant slalom-1, combined-1), 36 victories (14 downhill, 17 super-G, 4 giant slalom, 1 combined) and 80 podiums in 17 
seasons on the World Cup.
   
In addition to being a two-time overall World Cup champion (2007, 2009), he is also a five-time world champion in downhill, giant slalom and super combined, and won Olympic golds in the downhill (2018) and super-G (2010).
   
Standing 1.89m (6'2″) tall, Svindal said he was prepared for the next stage of his life.
   
“I think I'll miss it not in a sad way, in a way that is 'That was awesome',” he said. “But even good things come to an end and you can think back at all the good memories.”
   
The ever-modest and affable Svindal, be it speaking in his native Norwegian or fluent English or German, pinpointed respect as the one thing he wanted to take with him from skiing.
   
“This is an awesome sport, not just the racing part, but the respect between the racers,” he said. “There's a lot of things this sport can be really proud of and I'm part of that sport so that's something I want to try and take with me into other things I do. I hope I contributed on that side in the sport as well.”
 
 'Amazing career'
 
Norwegian teammate and long-time World Cup 'Attacking Viking' confidant Jansrud was full of praise for Svindal.
   
“There are not many people who get to retire with such an amazing career,” he said.
   
Svindal made his World Cup debut in 2002 and went on to become the oldest Olympic alpine ski gold medallist when he swept to victory in the 2018 Olympic downhill in Pyeongchang.
   
In between, many kilometres of downhill skiing were covered by the racer credited as an outstanding role model and driving force behind the Norwegian team's winning philosophy of keeping it simple.
   
Svindal retires as one of the most decorated skiers ever, having being crowned world champion five times, twice picking up the crystal globe for best overall skier, as well as winning a medal of each colour at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
   
He is a complete competitor who has also had to overcome some horrific injuries, none less so than when he crashed in Beaver Creek in 2007. He also sat out the 2015 season and most of 2016 because of injuries.
   
But Svindal is known for his supreme physical conditioning, and each time he bounced back.
 
US ski star Lindsey Vonn, who ironically races her final downhill on Sunday, has forged a deep friendship with Svindal, often training together.
   
“When athletes in the past have retired, I've been the same way, 'No, you can do it, keep going, anything is possible',” she said. “But as an athlete, when you get to that point, you just know in your gut that it's time.
   
“Aksel is in the same position as I am. We are both kind of accepting where we are at the moment and it's just nice to be able to talk to someone who is going through the same thing as I am at the exact same time.”