The ruling handed down by the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday extends Therese Johaug's suspension from the original 13 to 18 months. Had the court not extended the ban, it would have expired in time for the seven-time world champion to compete at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next February. However, the international federation (FIS) deemed that suspension too short and appealed it to the CAS.
"I'm completely broken. I was dreaming about the Olympics and I was told yesterday that it would not happen," a tearful Johaug told a news conference in Italy on Tuesday. "I cannot understand the punishment I got. I find it unfair."
Johaug, who won gold in the 4x5-kilometer relay at the the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, tested positive for traces of the banned anabolic steroid clostebol during an out-of-competition drug test on September 16, 2016. She said she had ingested the steroid through a lip cream that the Norwegian team doctor had given her to treat burns she received during a training session at high altitude in Italy a few weeks earlier.
Although the judges said they believed her explanation and precluded an attempt to cheat as the steroid doses in the lip balm are not enough to boost performance, they also said she deserved to be sanction due to carelessness.
"Ms. Johaug failed to conduct a basic check of the packaging, which not only listed a prohibited substance as an ingredient but also included clear doping cautionary warning,” a CAS press release explained.
Her suspension now runs until April 18, 2018, weeks after the Olympics that are set to begin on February 9. The way she could get the CAS ruling overturned would be to appeal case to the Swiss Supreme Court, but she is not expected to do so.
pfd/dv (dpa, AFP)