SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 23:  (L-R) Silver medalist Maxim Vylegzhanin of Russia, gold medalist Alexander Legkov of Russia and bronze medalist Ilia Chernousov of Russia celebrate during the medal ceremony for the Men's 50 km Mass Start Free during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
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Russia’s top cross-country skiers banned from world championships

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Russia’s two best cross-country skiers from the Sochi Olympics, both provisionally suspended since December, were denied entry into the world championships that start this week.

Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin, who went one-two in the Sochi Olympic 50km freestyle, were among six Russian cross-country skiers provisionally suspended by the International Ski Federation in December after their names appeared in the McLaren report on Russian doping in Sochi.

Five of those skiers, including Legkov and Vylegzhanin, made “urgent requests” during their appeals processes to be allowed to compete at the world championships, which start Wednesday in Lahti, Finland.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport denied those requests, but the appeals processes are ongoing, it announced Tuesday.

Legkov and Vylegzhanin were the only Russian skiers to earn multiple medals in Sochi. Both were also part of the 4x10km relay that took silver.

Vylegzhanin added another silver in the team sprint and also owns five world championships medals. Legkov owns two world championships medals.

Aleksey Petukhov, a 2010 Olympic bronze medalist and two-time world medalist, was also among the five skiers who were denied worlds entry. As were Sochi Olympians Yevgeny Belov and Yevgenia Shapovalova.

The IOC said 28 Russians in all from the Sochi Olympics faced doping cases.

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MORE: Over 1,000 Russian athletes involved in organized doping, report says

World’s top cross-country skier banned 13 months, can return for Olympics

VAL DI FIEMME, ITALY - JANUARY 10: (FRANCE OUT) Therese Johaug of Norway takes 1st place during the FIS Nordic World Cup Men's and Women's Cross Country Tour de Ski on January 10, 2016 in Val di Fiemme, Italy. (Photo by Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
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Norwegian Therese Johaug, the reigning World Cup cross-country skiing champion, received a backdated 13-month ban for testing positive in September for a steroid found in a lip balm she said she took unknowingly.

Johaug, 28, will sit out the entire 2016-17 season but can return in the 2017-18 season, including the PyeongChang Winter Games, where she will be a top medal threat. The 13-month ban was backdated to Oct. 18, according to Norway’s Olympic Committee.

Johaug won individual silver and bronze medals in Sochi, three gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and the 2015-16 World Cup season title.

Johaug said in October that she tested positive due to a lotion given to her by a Norwegian team doctor to treat sun burn on her lips. She has been provisionally banned ever since. The doctor resigned.

“I am not guilty. I asked the doctor and he said it was not on the doping list,” Johaug said at an Oct. 19 news conference, wiping tears away with her hands (video here), according to The Associated Press. “And he said no.”

MORE: PyeongChang Winter Olympics daily schedule highlights

U.S. puts 2 women on Tour de Ski stage podium

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Jessie Diggins won her third straight World Cup 5km freestyle, while Sadie Bjornsen notched her first individual World Cup podium as the U.S. put two racers in the top three of a Tour de Ski stage for the first time on Friday.

Full results are here. Tour de Ski standings through five of seven stages are here.

The Tour de Ski, which debuted in 2006-07, is a weeklong, all-around test of the world’s best cross-country skiers. Stages vary in distance and technique.

Diggins, 25, continued her strong season with her third World Cup podium in 12 starts. She made her Olympic debut in Sochi with a best finish of eighth.

Though Diggins owns the 5km freestyle, that event is not contested at the Olympics.

The U.S. owns one Olympic cross-country medal, Bill Koch‘s 30km silver at the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Games. A U.S. woman has never placed higher than sixth in any event.

This year’s Tour de Ski is lacking the sport’s biggest female stars.

Norway’s Marit Bjoergen and Therese Johaug and Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk combined to win 12 of the last 13 individual world titles, the last eight World Cup overall titles, the last seven Tour de Ski overall titles and six of the last seven individual Olympic titles.

Bjoergen and Kowalczyk are skipping the Tour to focus on the world championships in February and March, while Johaug is serving a doping ban.

The top skier this season has been another Norwegian, Heidi Weng, who leads the World Cup and Tour de Ski overall standings. Diggins is fifth in the Tour de Ski standings, which would match the best finish ever for an American.

Diggins is now tied with four-time Olympian Kikkan Randall for the most Tour de Ski stage wins (two) and podiums (three) for an American.

MORE: Doping agency eyes 14-month ban for world’s best XC skier