Poland confirms Olympic doping case

The Polish Olympic Committee says cross-country skier Kornelia Marek tested positive for a banned substance at the Vancouver Olympics.

The Polish Olympic Committee says cross-country skier Kornelia Marek tested positive for a banned substance at the Vancouver Olympics.

Marek helped Poland to a sixth-place finish in the women's 20,000-metre relay on Feb. 25. She also finished 11th in the 30-kilometre mass start and ninth in the women's team sprint.

She tested positive for the blood booster EPO after that race, and the B sample is to be tested Friday in Richmond, B.C. The results will be known Tuesday or Wednesday, International Olympic Committee spokesman Henryk Urbas said.

"I hope it will be negative," Marek told Polish television. "I have nothing to reproach myself for.

"I was never taking any banned substances."

If found guilty of doping by the International Olympic Committee, Marek and the relay teams would be disqualified and stripped of their Vancouver results. Marek would also be banned from the next Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

She would also become the first athlete disqualified from the Vancouver Games for doping and face a two-year ban from the international ski federation. And, under IOC rules, any athlete who receives a doping ban of at least six months is ineligible to compete in the subsequent Olympics.

Marek will skip a World Cup event in Norway this week and return to Poland to appear before the national ski authorities.

EPO, or erythropoeitin, is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring hormone. It enhances endurance by boosting the production of oxygen-rich red blood cells in the body.

Few Vancouver doping concerns

The Vancouver Games, which ended Feb. 28, had produced only two minor doping violations until now, both involving hockey players who tested positive for light stimulants and were let off with reprimands.

The IOC said it was investigating a positive test, but declined to name the athlete because the case hadn't been finalized.

"We can confirm that we have an adverse analytical finding," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "The athlete and the National Olympic Committee have been informed and a disciplinary procedure is underway."

The POC said it was notified of the positive result by the IOC late Monday.

"Then we will know if we are dealing with a case of doping," Urbas told The Associated Press. "She is shocked, the coach is shocked, everyone is shocked.

"This is a powerful blow to the Polish Olympic Committee, because we had a very good performance [in Vancouver], the best at a Winter Games so far, and this tarnishes the general picture," Urbas said.

During the Vancouver Games, the IOC issued reprimands to Russian female hockey player Svetlana Terenteva and Slovakian hockey player Lubomir Visnovsky, a defenceman with the NHL's Edmonton Oilers. Both tested positive for stimulants contained in cold medications.

The IOC conducted more than 2,000 tests, a record for a Winter Games.

The IOC also stores doping samples for eight years so they can be analyzed retroactively once new testing methods become available. If future testing shows an athlete cheated, the IOC could impose sanctions and strip any medals.

The IOC attributed the low number of positive cases in Vancouver to increased pre-Games testing by international sports federations and national anti-doping bodies.