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Austrian cross: country skier Duerr tests positive for EPO

Johannes Duerr of Austria celebrates as he crosses the finish line to third place during the men's FIS World Cup cross-country skiing 9km fr
Johannes Duerr of Austria celebrates as he crosses the finish line to third place during the men's FIS World Cup cross-country skiing 9km fr

By Karolos Grohmann

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Duerr has apologized for the stupidity that saw him kicked out of the Sochi Winter Olympics after testing positive for performance-boosting EPO.

The 26-year-old, who had placed eighth in the skiathlon, on Sunday became the fifth athlete to be ejected from the Games for a failed dope test.

"There's nothing left for me than to apologize to everyone. To my family, my wife," Duerr told Austrian TV ORF at the airport as he was leaving.

The athlete made no excuses, saying he felt a sense of relief everything was now out in the open.

"For me the main thing is simply all the people I disappointed... yes, I can't make it good again but I would just like to apologize.

"And so many people worked their butts off for me and I disappointed them with my stupidity. First of all I would simply like to apologize and everything else, all further steps, we'll see what comes my way. I don't know myself yet.

"No, I'm not afraid. Part of me is happy that it came to an end," adding that he had certainly trusted the wrong people.

Austrian Olympic chief Karl Stoss said the news had shocked him. "His immediate exclusion from the Olympic team has been completed," he added.

Austrian cross-country skier Bernhard Tritscher, who took part in the 50 km race, said Duerr had not turned up for a planned training session on Saturday.

"Later in the evening the sports director of the Austrian country ski federation ... told me Duerr had been doped," he told reporters.

"After that I couldn't sleep anymore. I was really shocked. Johannes is a great guy, so I don't understand how it could happen. Of course now he is very disappointed."

Latvian men's ice hockey player Vitaljis Pavlovs was thrown out of the Sochi Olympics earlier on Sunday after he tested positive for methylhexaneamine.

German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, Italian bobsleigh athlete William Frullani and Ukraine's cross-country skier Marina Lisogor have also been caught doping at Russia's first Winter Games.

The IOC is conducting a record 2,500 doping tests at the Sochi Games, which end later on Sunday.

The 2010 Vancouver Olympics had one positive case.

Four years earlier, at the Turin 2006 Olympics, the Austrian cross country and biathlon teams had their headquarters raided by Italian police and drugs testers in a high-profile doping scandal.

None tested positive but half a dozen athletes were banned for life after the discovery of syringes and other equipment, and the Austrian Olympic Committee was fined for anti-doping rules violations by the International Olympic Committee.

(Additional reporting by David Ljunggren and Dmitriy Rogovitskiy in Rosa Khutor, and Georgina Prodhan in Vienna; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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