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Russian Skater Is Suspended

April 5, 2000

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) _ Two-time world pairs champion Yelena Berezhnaya of Russia was suspended for three months, and she and her partner were stripped of their European title for failing a drug test.

She and her partner, Anton Sikarulidze, withdrew from the World Championships in Nice last week, forgoing a defense of their crown, after Berezhnaya tested positive for a banned stimulant.

Berezhnaya said the substance was taken inadvertently to treat bronchitis.

The International Skating Union also suspended lower-ranked Yevgeny Sviridov of Uzbekistan for three months for a similar offense. His partner is Natalia Ponomareva.

The sanctions _ agreed at a skating union meeting in Nice on Monday _ were the maximum possible for first-time offenses. The skaters will be allowed to continue with ice shows and exhibitions in the next three months.

``Both couples are excluded from the respective results of the championships and their respective placements, prize money as well as the European title and medal for Berezhanya/Sikarulidze are withdrawn,″ the skating union said.

Both Berezhnaya and Sviridov tested positive for the category of stimulants, which includes ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, pseudoephedrine, caffeine and strychnine.

The ISU said the sanctions are retroactive to the date of the positive test, meaning that Berezhnaya is suspended from Feb. 9 to May 8, while Sviridov is suspended from Feb. 24 to May 23.

The skating union also said Budapest had withdrawn as host for the 2002 European Championships because of a fire that destroyed the city’s ice arena last year. The event has been switched to Lausanne and will be held Jan 14-20, 2002.

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