Austrian alpine skier tests positive for steroids

Hans Knauss, who finished fourth at a downhill in Lake Louise, Alta., in November has tested positive for nandrolone.

Austrian skier Hans Knauss was conditionally suspended Wednesday after his second urine sample came back positive for steroids, the International Ski Federation said.

Knauss tested positive for nandrolone following his fourth-place finish in a World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alta., on Nov. 27.

Nandrolone is a steroid that helps increase muscle mass and physical strength. It occurs naturally in the human body but only in tiny quantities.

The positive test was announced by the Austrian ski federation on Dec. 18. Since then, analysis of his B-sample also came back positive, FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis said.

Knauss, 33, has won seven races in his 14-season World Cup career. He is currently ranked ninth in downhill and sixth in super-G on the World Cup circuit.

Under international anti-doping rules, athletes found guilty of using steroids face a two-year ban. Lewis said Knauss has three options – accept the finding and suspension, submit a written defence to the FIS doping panel, or request an appeal hearing.

Knauss contends supplements he took were tainted with nandrolone, which was not listed as an ingredient on the container.

A hearing for Knauss has been scheduled by FIS between Feb. 16 and 18 in Oberstdorf, Germany, said Christian Flick, the skier's legal adviser.

Lewis said Knauss can ask for the process to be accelerated so that the case can be settled before the world championships, which begin Jan. 28 and run through Feb. 13 in Bormio, Italy.

Knauss was hoping to be named to the four-skier Austrian team for the worlds, but the Austrian ski federation said that because of the provisional suspension, Knauss will no longer be considered.

The federation did say it believed Knauss had "committed no offense worthy of punishment."

There have been just a handful of doping cases in alpine skiing over the years. Christelle Guignard of France was stripped of her bronze medal in giant slalom from the 1989 world championships for a positive test.

In 2002, British skier Alain Baxter was stripped of his bronze medal in the men's slalom at the Salt Lake City Olympics after testing positive for the banned stimulant methamphetamine.

With files from Associated Press