Therese Johaug

Norway’s Therese Johaug wins gold in return to world champs

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Norway’s seven-time world champion Therese Johaug won her first world title today since 2015 in the women’s Skiathlon at the 2019 Nordic World Ski Championships in Seefeld, Austria. Johaug crossed the finish line with a time of 36 minutes 54.5 seconds.

Johaug returned to racing this season after being served an 18-month drug suspension for testing positive for the steroid clostebol in 2016.

Johaug said the infraction was unintentional, and due to her use of a lip cream to treat a cold sore which, unknown to her, included the banned substance. The mistake would be costly for the three-time Olympic medalist, who had won gold in Vancouver in 2010 as well as a silver and bronze medal four years later in Sochi.  

Banned from competition, Johaug’s suspension forced her to miss the entire 2017-18 World Cup season, the 2017 World Championships as well as the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games.

Johaug has been making up for lost time this season on the World Cup. Each time the 30-year-old Norwegian has appeared on the podium, she’s been at the top, winning nine races so far this season. And now she can add a world title to her list of accomplishments in 2019.

“I’ve been looking forward for this championship for over two years,” an emotional Johaug said after the race in Seefeld. “The last time I was in a championship was in Falun, four years ago. I’m training so much and working so hard for this, and all the team around me have helped me every time, so I’m really happy.”

Johaug crossed the finish line nearly a full minute ahead of silver medalist, and her countrywoman, Norway’s Ingvlid Flugstad Oestberg. Russia’s Natalia Nepryaeva finished off the podium, taking bronze.

Full results are here.

The men’s Skiathlon came down to a three-way battle with just 2km to go in the 30km race. Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby made a late push to jump ahead of Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov on an uphill climb. Another Norwegian, Sjur Roethe was also keeping pace with the lead group. But as the trio neared the end, Sunby lost his lead when Roethe’s skis ran faster on a downhill section leading into the final stretch.

With all three racers within a ski’s length of one another, Roethe crossed the finish line first, just a tenth of a second ahead of Bolshunov who was able to overtake a gassed Sundby in the final push to the finish.

Check out this weekend’s remaining schedule for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships and watch live on TV on Olympic Channel and online with OlympicChannel.com and NBC Sports Gold.

WORLD NORDIC SKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS — Seefeld, Austria

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 5:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 15km Skiathlon OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 30km Skiathlon OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 15km Skiathlon* Olympic Channel
8:30 a.m. Ski Jumping: Men’s LH Final OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
9:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 30km Skiathlon* Olympic Channel
10:30 a.m. Ski Jumping: Men’s LH Final* Olympic Channel
Sunday 4:30 a.m. Nordic Combined: Team LH OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Cross-Country: M & W Team Sprint Final OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Nordic Combined: Team Sprint OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:45 a.m. Ski jumping: Men’s LH Team Final* OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
9:30 a.m. Nordic Combined: Team LH* Olympic Channel
10:30 a.m. Cross-Country: M&W Team Sprint Finals* Olympic Channel
2 p.m. Nordic Combined: Team Sprint* Olympic Channel
3 p.m. Ski Jumping: Men’s LH Team Final Olympic Channel
11:30 p.m. Cross-Country: Women’s Team Sprint Final* NBCSN

*Same-day delay

Norway ski star banned from Olympics over lip cream

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Norwegian cross-country skiing champion Therese Johaug is set to miss the PyeongChang Olympics over lip cream.

Johaug, a triple Olympic medalist and seven-time world champion, tested positive last September for a steroid found in a cream given to her by a team doctor to treat sunburned lips.

Johaug claimed the doctor told her it was OK to use, but she failed to check clear warning labels and was suspended all last season up to this November.

On Tuesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport extended her current doping ban into April, through the Olympics in February.

The court ruling came after an appeal by the International Ski Federation, which felt the original 13-month ban handed down by Norwegian sports officials was too lenient.

“I am heartbroken,” a tearful Johaug said at a news conference within an hour of the announcement, according to The Associated Press. “I had a dream to get to the Olympics. I think it is unfair, I feel I was unfairly treated.”

Norway’s Olympic Committee had previously banned the 29-year-old from October 2016 to November 2017, saying she was not at significant fault.

“I am not guilty. I asked the [team] 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 AP. “And he said no.”

In March, the International Ski Federation appealed for a longer ban of 16 to 20 months, which would rule her out of the Winter Games. The federation argued that Johaug deserved more fault in part because the medication was “unknown to her and was purchased in a foreign country.”

A Court of Arbitration for Sport panel decided to give Johaug an 18-month ban for her negligence in missing a clear warning label listing the banned substance.

“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,” the court said in a press release.

Though Johaug had an “otherwise clean anti-doping record,” the panel chose to follow the letter of the World Anti-Doping Code, which calls for a 12-to-24-month suspension in this type of case.

Johaug was the world’s top cross-country skier in 2015-16, winning the World Cup overall title.

In her absence, two other Norwegians starred last season — Heidi Weng and 10-time Olympic medalist Marit Bjoergen, who was coming back from childbirth.

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Longer ban for Norway skiing star sought by International Ski Federation

AP
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OBERHOFEN, Switzerland (AP) — The International Ski Federation (FIS) wants to impose a longer ban on Norwegian cross-country ski star Therese Johaug in a doping case involving a steroid.

Johaug’s 13-month ban, which lets the Olympic champion return for the 2018 Olympics, is “on the low end of the range of reasonable sanctions,” FIS said Tuesday

FIS is appealing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the ruling by a Norwegian Olympic tribunal. The case is likely to take several months.

The 28-year-old Johaug tested positive for clostebol. She said it was in a lotion approved by a team doctor to treat sunburned lips during high-altitude training last August in Italy.

The Norwegian judging panel decided that Johaug, a two-time overall World Cup champion and seven-time world championships gold medalist, was not at significant fault for her positive test.

FIS cited Johaug’s failure “to read the doping warning label printed in red on the package.”

The governing body also suggested the skier was further at fault because the “medication was unknown to her and was purchased in a foreign country.”

Johaug’s ban blocked her from defending her World Cup title, but she will be allowed to compete again in mid-November, almost three months before the Pyeongchang Olympics open in South Korea.

Johaug won gold in the 4×5-kilometer relay at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and earned individual silver and bronze medals in distance events at the 2014 Sochi Games.

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