Irina Starykh, the sixth-ranked women’s biathlete in the world this season, will likely not be representing Russia at the Sochi Olympics after saying she was told she failed a drug test Thursday.
“I have received a notification from the IBU [International Biathlon Union] in which it is stated that one of my tests gave a positive result,” Starykh wrote in a letter to the Russian Biathlon Union, which was translated by R-Sport. “This news was a major unexpected event for me. Believe me that I respectfully regret that this story is linked with my name. … I do not have the right or the desire to let down the girls and the whole team.”
Starykh, 26, did not admit to taking a banned substance in the Russian Biathlon Union article and said she wanted her “B” sample tested, according to the letter.
The news came one day after the International Biathlon Union said two Russian biathletes and one Lithuanian biathlete had tested positive but did not name the athletes or the substances.
Starykh had never finished better than 21st in a World Cup event before making two podiums over 13 races this season. She was the top-ranked Russian woman this season and seen as a medal threat in Sochi.
The last time a Winter Olympic medal was stripped came via a female Russian biathlete. In 2006, Russian Olga Pyleva lost a silver medal after testing positive for a banned stimulant.
The world’s best men’s biathlete and the top American chimed in on Twitter on Wednesday, before Starykh was confirmed to have tested positive.
Amazing race to catch most decorated Winter Olympian ever
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the American sprinters whose raised-fist salutes at the 1968 Olympics are an ageless sign of race-inspired protest, will join the U.S. Olympic team at the White House next week for its meeting with President Barack Obama.
Smith and Carlos were sent home from the Olympics after raising their black-gloved fists in a symbolic protest during the U.S. national anthem. They called it a “human rights salute.”
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun asked them to serve as ambassadors as the federation tries to bring more diversity to its own ranks. They will join the team at the White House next Wednesday, then later that evening at an awards celebration in Washington.
The sprinters have been referenced frequently in the recent protests, spurred by Colin Kaepernick, during national anthems at NFL games. One player, Marcus Peters of the Chiefs, raised his own black-gloved fist before Kansas City’s season opener.
“I think Tommie and John have played an important and positive role in the evolution of our attitudes about diversity and inclusion, not only in the United States but around the world,” Blackmun said Friday night at a dinner to celebrate the U.S. performance in Brazil this summer.
MORE: Usain Bolt says he received offers to play wide receiver in the NFL (video)
The men’s marathon world record has been broken five of the last nine years at the Berlin Marathon.
Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang, who broke the world record at the 2013 Berlin Marathon, believes that he can do it again on Sunday, when the race will stream live on the NBC Sports app beginning at 2:30 a.m. ET.
“I’ve trained well and, three years down the line from my world record here, I feel good and believe I have the potential to attempt the world record once more,” he said at today’s press conference, according to the IAAF. “Running at the top level, there is a lot of wear and tear on the body, especially when you are running for a time, but I am very focused on the world record.”
Kipsang clocked 2 hours, 3 minutes, 23 seconds when he broke the world record in 2013. A year later, fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto lowered it to 2:02:57 on the same course. Kimetto will not race in Berlin this year.
Kipsang will be challenged by Kenyan compatriot Emmanuel Mutai, who has the fastest time (2:03:13) in the field, and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.
Bekele is a three-time Olympic track champion and the 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder, but acknowledged that his marathon personal best of 2:05:04 places him a distant fourth in the field.
“I consider my personal best of 2:05 to be slow compared to the best runners,” he said. “I want to run as fast as I can on Sunday and beat my best.”
MORE: Berlin Marathon to live stream on NBC Sports app