Ex­tra oxy­gen could cost Ger­man skier first World Cup win

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - GRA­HAM DUN­BAR

ST. MORITZ, SWITZER­LAND Days af­ter get­ting his first ca­reer World Cup win, Ste­fan Luitz could be dis­qual­i­fied for break­ing ski­ing’s dop­ing rules by us­ing an oxy­gen mask.

The In­ter­na­tional Ski Fed­er­a­tion said Fri­day it is in­ves­ti­gat­ing an in­ci­dent that oc­curred last Sun­day in Beaver Creek, Colo.

Racing in the gi­ant slalom started at an al­ti­tude of 10,340 feet (3,152 me­tres) and the 26-year-old Ger­man won by re­tain­ing his first-run lead. The vic­tory ended run­ner-up Mar­cel Hirscher’s five-race win­ning streak in the event.

Hirscher, the Olympic cham­pion in gi­ant slalom, could yet be awarded his 60th World Cup win.

FIS anti-dop­ing rules state oxy­gen tanks can­not be brought to race venues and “com­pe­ti­tion re­sults achieved af­ter the use of the equip­ment shall be au­to­mat­i­cally dis­qual­i­fied.” The World An­ti­Dop­ing Agency al­lows “sup­ple­men­tal oxy­gen ad­min­is­tered by in­hala­tion, but not in­tra­venously,” though it notes that sports bod­ies could choose to pro­hibit it.

“Ath­letes must check the rules that ap­ply to sup­ple­men­tal oxy­gen use with the sport­ing au­thor­i­ties govern­ing the events they com­pete in,” WADA guide­lines state.

Ger­man team di­rec­tor Wolf­gang Maier ac­knowl­edged to the DPA news agency the team made a mis­take, but had not cheated. Luitz will be el­i­gi­ble to race in Satur­day’s gi­ant slalom in Val d’Isere, France, pend­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, FIS said.

At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Luitz was poised for the sec­ond-fastest time in the gi­ant slalom’s first run, but hooked a ski around the fi­nal gate, fell over the fin­ish line and was dis­qual­i­fied for strad­dling the gate.

Ste­fan Luitz

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