MOSCOW, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Russian cross-country skier Nikolay Pankratov has received a two-year ban after being caught carrying equipment for blood doping, the country’s skiing association (RSA) said on Tuesday.
“Nikolay Pankratov was found to have committed a violation of the anti-doping code by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and was banned for two years,” the RSA said on its website (www.rsaski.ru).
In September, custom officials found 22 vials of the banned substance Actovegin along with equipment for intravenous injections in Pankratov’s luggage after he was stopped on the Austrian-Swiss border.
Pankratov, 28, won a silver medal for Russia at the 2007 world championships in the 4x10km relay and competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
Pankratov’s case is the latest blow to Russia’s winter sports image as the country prepares to host the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Last year, the International Ski Federation (FIS) fined the Russian national skiing body 125,000 euros ($161,900) after several cases of doping in their nordic skiing team.
The FIS also issued a “strong recommendation” that Russia appoints a new governing body for the sport and builds a doping-free ski team ahead of the Sochi Games.
Since 2009, at least six Russian nordic skiers, including triple Olympic champion Julija Tchepalova and 2006 Olympic gold medallist Yevgeny Dementiev, have been suspended for testing positive for the blood-booster EPO and other related drugs. (Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; editing by Ed Osmond, To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)