Russia loses handball medal after 3 players fail drug tests

BY AP • January 19, 2018

VIENNA (AP) Russia was stripped of a European handball medal Friday after three players were banned for doping.

In the latest doping scandal to hit Russian sports, the European Handball Federation said the three all tested positive while playing for Russia at last year's European women's under-19 championship in Slovenia, where Russia won silver.

The EHF sentenced Antonina Skorobogatchenko, Maria Duvakina and Maria Dudina to 20-month bans after they all tested positive for meldonium, a heart-boosting substance banned in 2016.

''The panel noted that the players did not knowingly intend to cheat when ingesting the prohibited substance and that the players had established that they had not intentionally taken the banned substance,'' the EHF said in statement, explaining why they received less than the standard four-year ban. ''The fact that the players also admitted the violation promptly was also taken into account.''

None of the three were on the Russian women's team which won Olympic gold in 2016.

Russia has formally been barred from next month's Winter Olympics due to doping and cover-ups at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. However, many Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under the designation ''Olympic Athletes from Russia.''

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