FIS intends to strip Luitz of win for using oxygen mask

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              Germany's Stefan Luitz reacts after the second run of a Men's World Cup giant slalom skiing race Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Beaver Creek, Colo. (AP Photo/Nathan Bilow)
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SELVA DI VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) — The International Ski Federation intends to strip German racer Stefan Luitz of his first World Cup win for using an oxygen mask but will not seek further punishment.

FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis said on Friday the German Ski Association has been notified that the rules call for “disqualification from the race at the event where the offense occurred.”

Racing in a giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colorado, this month that started at an altitude of 10,340 feet (3,152 meters), Luitz was seen using an oxygen tank between runs. He won by retaining his first-run lead.

The victory ended runner-up Marcel Hirscher’s five-race winning streak in the event but the Olympic champion in giant slalom could yet be awarded the win.

FIS anti-doping rules state oxygen tanks cannot be brought to race venues, and “competition results achieved after the use of the equipment shall be automatically disqualified.”

“It” part of the anti-doping and medical guide regulation but it’s related to a prohibited method so it’s very different from blood doping or taking of anabolic steroids and different offenses are categorized in different ways,” Lewis said. “This is just a breach of the regulations.”

Added Norwegian skier Kjetil Jansrud, “You see the logic behind it. You don’t want athletes in cross country or other disciplines using oxygen. It doesn’t send a good signal.”

While Norwegian athletes are banned under national rules from using oxygen tanks, Jansrud said he’s seen athletes from many other teams use them during training at altitude.

The German association was informed of the FIS decision this week and has two weeks to request a hearing before a decision will be made. After the decision is issued, the German association can appeal the ruling to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

While there were reports other German skiers also used oxygen masks, Lewis said no other athletes were investigated.

Germany team director Wolfgang Maier acknowledged the team made a mistake but maintained it had not cheated.

Besides the victory and valuable World Cup points, Luitz also stands to lose 45,000 Swiss Francs ($45,000) in prize money.

In the meantime, Luitz is still racing. He finished 30th in a GS in Val d’Isere, France, last weekend and is expected to compete in races in Alta Badia, Italy, and Saalbach, Austria, over the next week.

“I feel very sorry for him, because it’s just a stupid mistake by someone who should have known better,” Aksel Lund Svindal said after winning a super-G on Friday. “And it’s too bad that this is what we’re talking about now instead of the fact that he tore his ACL in Alta Badia last year and he won in Beaver Creek this year. Sad is the only word to describe the whole situation.”