SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 17:  Gold medalist Darya Domracheva of Belarus celebrates during the flower ceremony for the Women's 12.5 km Mass Start during day ten of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center on February 17, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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World’s top biathlete returns three months after childbirth

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Belarus’ Darya Domracheva, the only athlete to earn three individual gold medals in Sochi, returns to the biathlon World Cup this week for the first time since March 2015.

Domracheva, 30, missed the 2015-16 season due to mononucleosis and the start of this season due to pregnancy.

She and Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time with 13 medals, announced April 5 that they were in a relationship and having a child.

The were married in the summer. Domracheva gave birth Oct. 1 to daughter Xenia.

Now she’s back competing in Oberhof, Germany, with World Cup events starting Friday.

The women’s biathlon scene has changed since Domracheva finished the 2014-15 season as World Cup overall champion and began her break.

This season’s World Cup leader is German Laura Dahlmeier, who didn’t finish in the top 10 in any of her five Sochi Olympic events and was eighth in the World Cup overall standings in Domracheva’s last season.

France’s Marie Dorin Habert earned medals in all six events at the 2016 World Championships, one season after finishing 15th in the World Cup overall standings.

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Russia loses World Cup biathlon, speed skating events over doping

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MARCH 10:  A general view as the sun sets during the Women's 4x6km Relay event at theBiathlon & Ski Complex on March 10, 2013 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Russia has lost speedskating and biathlon events it was due to host this winter following allegations it ran a vast state-sponsored doping scheme.

World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren‘s report has prompted Western athletes to campaign for boycotts in several winter sports in Russia after 12 medalists from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi were implicated.

It’s not yet clear where the events will be held instead.

The International Skating Union said it was stripping the Russian city of Chelyabinsk of the final round of this season’s World Cup because, following McLaren’s report, “the focus of the event would not be on the sport but rather accusations and controversies.”

Other concerns included “a substantial amount of critical evidence” of doping in Russia “and the uncertainty relating to the attendance of the athletes,” the ISU said.

Russian biathlon officials voluntarily gave up their rights to host a World Cup round in March and the world junior championships, due to start late February. It was “impossible” to hold the events in the circumstances, the Russian Biathlon Union said.

The International Biathlon Union welcomed the move.

“This is a first important step by the Russian Biathlon Union to show to the IBU and to the world of sport that the current situation is taken very seriously,” the IBU said in a statement. “This will now allow the international biathlon family to focus on biathlon during these events.”

Russia had previously lost the world bobsled and skeleton championships in the fallout from McLaren’s report, which alleged more than 1,000 athletes, including Olympic medalists, had benefited from a state-backed plan to cover up drug use.

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Ole Einar Bjoerndalen eyes 7th Olympics, family with another Sochi superstar

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen
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Norway biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time with 13 medals, plans to continue competing through the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics.

That wasn’t the only news the 42-year-old Bjoerndalen broke on Tuesday.

He also said that he and Belarusian biathlete Darya Domracheva, who won three golds at the Sochi Olympics, are expecting a baby in October. Domracheva plans to “get back on track” in January, according to her website.

Bjoerndalen previously announced after he earned two golds at the Sochi Olympics that he would not retire until after the 2016 World Championships at home in Oslo.

At the Oslo Worlds last month, Bjoerndalen captured medals in three of four individual races in a stunning success and then said he would take the offseason to decide his future.

Bjoerndalen had a resurgent 2015-16 season overall.

He won the first individual World Cup race of the season Dec. 2, his first World Cup victory since Feb. 12, 2012. At Worlds, he finished second to Martin Fourcade in the first two individual races and earned bronze in the mass-start finale.

If Bjoerndalen makes a seventh Olympics, he could try in Pyeongchang to break his tie with retired Norwegian cross-country legend Bjorn Daehlie for the Winter Olympic gold medals record of eight.

He could also keep countrywoman Marit Bjoergen from approaching his total Winter Olympic medals record. The cross-country skier at 10 Olympic medals took this season off due to pregnancy but, at 35 years old, plans to return.

The most decorated athletes in Sochi — speed skaters Ireen Wuest and Viktor Ahn — are at eight Olympic medals each.

Domracheva, 29, became the first female biathlete to earn three golds at a single Olympics in Sochi. She took last season off due to mononucleosis.

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