Figure skating Sochi 2014


By Duncan Mackay and Nick Butler in Sochi, and Zjan Shirinian in London
Click refresh for latest updates. All times stated are Russian

BREAKING NEWS: Italian bobsleigher William Frullani and Germany's double Olympic gold medal winning biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle have tested positive for drugs at Sochi 2014.

Frullani and Sachenbacher-Stehle have tested positive for dimethylamylamine, which is also known as methylhexanamine. Both are blaming contaminated food supplements. (see 12:53, 13:04, 15:05-15:37, 19:36 and 20:25-21:02) 

On that note, it is goodnight from Sochi!

See you tomorrow!

01: 31
One more final piece of news before we finish for the day. The IOC have just announced that biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle of Germany has been excluded from the rest of the Games.

The IOC Disciplinary Commission, composed for this case of Denis Oswald, chairman, Nawal El Moutawakel and Gunilla Lindberg, have disqualified her from the events she has already competed in - and also removed the diplomas awarded to her and her relay team-mates.  The International Biathlon Union and International Ski Federation is also requested to consider any further action within its own competence.

And tomorrow?

It is amazing that tomorrow is the penultimate day of Sochi 2014. We will expect plenty more repercussions from those two doping scandals but we also have another day of top level sport. 

Two gold medals on offer each in snowboarding and speed-skating as well as one in biathlon and cross country. It is men's slalom day in Alpine skiing and the beginning of the four man bobsleigh competition.

But most significantly of all we had two confirmed positive doping tests after a Games which, until this stage, had been surprisingly devoid of doping scandals.

It was also a day of action away from the sport - with accusations of judging controversy in figure skating and more criticism of Tokyo 2020 President Yoshirō Mori (see our latest article here)

So - another fascinating day of sport in Sochi. More Canadian success in team sports, Russian success on the short track and US success in Alpine skiing. Highlight of the day from a sporting perspective, however, was certainly Ukraine's poignant and wonderful victory in the biathlon relay.

Canadian supporters celebrate yet more success in a team sport this evening ©Toronto Star/Getty ImagesCanadian supporters celebrate yet more success in a team sport this evening ©Toronto Star/Getty Images

Canada are also bidding to one all four team sport gold medals. After winning men and women's curling, and women's ice hockey, they are now one match away from completing the sweep. Not bad eh.

So the final will pit the reigning world champions against the reigning Olympic champions - what a match it promises to be!

The US will face Finland for bronze.

Canada hold on to beat the US 1-0 in the ice hockey semi-final. That single goal in the second period from Jamie Benn the difference between the two sides and they move on into the gold medal match against Sweden.

Victor An won three gold medals and a bronze for South Korea at Turin 2006 and has now done the same here for Russia at Sochi 2014. 

Russia celebrate their 5,000m short track relay triumph ©Getty ImagesRussia celebrate their 5,000m short track relay triumph ©Getty Images

Sochi 2014 gold medal22:54 
Russia win a crash strewn 5,000m short track relay. As a member of the team Victor An takes the eighth medal of his career.

Silver goes to the US and bronze for China. 

German press conference following positive drugs test

Klaue tells the media that there will be another opportunity to ask questions at 09:30 tomorrow morning at another briefing. By then more details of the case may have emerged. 

Klaue brings the press conference to an early end, much to the annoyance of many of the German media. Vesper confirms that she had told him that she had her supplements tested before the Olympics and that there was nothing illegal in them. "That's what she claims anyway," he says.

Sachenbacher-Stehle  was "speechless" when she was told, claims Vesper

 She is now on her way back to Germany. "There may be further sanctions," warns Vesper. "For us, only clean sport is worth it."

 DOSB able to confirm the details only after she confirmed them herself. "We were shocked," said Vesper. "The atmosphere in the team was very bad. We are totally in support of clean sport."

Sample was tested at 10am this morning and confirmed the positive drugs test. A hearing was held before the IOC at 2pm. The DOSB has still to receive the result of this hearing. "This is why some of you might have become impatient," Vesper tells the press conference.

Vesper tells press conference that they received notification of the positive drugs test last night at 9.30pm. It had been taken last Monday after the mass start 12.5km where she had finished fourth

"My heart goes out to #EliseChristie, I know the feeling of doing nothing wrong but still getting penalised for it, keep your chin up girl."
- Paralympic javelin and discus thrower Nathan Stephens on British short track speed skater Elise Christie, who has been thrown out of her third event in three by the judges (see 21:54).

Canada win the 5,000m speed skating B final, the main event is up next.

22:29 Moving away from the Iceberg for a moment for an update from the Bolshoy, where the United States and defending Olympic champions Canada are in a real crunch match for a ticket to the men's ice hockey final. Canada lead by a single goal, with the third period to begin soon.

Germany's Chef de Mission Michael Vesper and Christan Klaue, the DOSB's communications director, are due to hold a press conference in a few minutes where they will give us more details of the positive doping test involving biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle.

Forty-five laps of the track in the 5,000m relay, and they're about to set off.

Russia will move into second in the medals table if they win 5,000m relay gold, but perhaps more importantly they'll jump ahead of the United States...

Those two nations, together with China, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan, will contest this race.

A frantic few minutes in the Iceberg Skating Palace as two golds are won. The men's 5,000m relay - the last gold medal of day 15 - will be raced shortly. Victor An, who has just won 500m gold, will take to the track for Russia in this one.

Sochi 2014 gold medal22:07 Seung-Hi Park of Korea wins the women's 1,000m by the narrowest of margins. Kexin Fan of China wins silver, Suk Hee Shim of Korea gets the bronze.

Sochi 2014 gold medal22:03
Victor An of Russia wins men's 500m speed skating gold. Dajing Wu of China takes the silver, with Charle Cournoyer of Canada the bronze.

Victor An wins speed skating gold, his second of the Games ©Getty ImagesVictor An wins speed skating gold, his second of the Games ©Getty Images

A lot of uming and ahing from the officials after Jianrou Li of China and Elise Christie of Great Britain collide in the women's 500m semi-final. Both are ultimately penalised and will play no further part in the event.

Russian Victor An, who raced at Turin 2006 under the Korean flag, is on for his second gold of the Sochi games, after getting into the 500m short track final.

Speed skating update

Plenty of speed skating action in Sochi tonight - here's where we are with it all:

In the long track, the men's team pursuit gold will be contested between the Netherlands and Korea tomorrow. Canada and Poland will race for bronze.

In the women's team pursuit quarter-finals, Russia were fastest. They will be joined in tomorrow's semi-finals by Poland, Japan and the Netherlands.

There's plenty of action in the Iceberg Skating Palace, where it's almost finals time.

The men's 500m final will be on first, followed by the women's 1,000m and the men's 5,000m relay.

Sochi 2014 gold medal21:13
Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States makes the most of her lead after the first slalom runs to win gold from Austrians Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel.

Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates gold with fellow medallists Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel ©AFP/Getty ImagesOlympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates gold with fellow medallists Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel ©AFP/Getty Images

The German has tested positive for dimethylamylamine - or methylhexanamine - the same product as Frullani.

The DOSB said Sachenbacher-Stehle was no longer part of the German team at Sochi 2014 and would be sent home as soon as possible

German officials have confirmed that biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle has tested positive and been disqualified from Sochi 2014

"I am experiencing the worst nightmare you can imagine because I cannot at all explain how the positive test has come about," she said through her management.

Sachenbacher-Stehle claimed that she had all her supplements checked before the Games and there was nothing illegal in any of them.

"I can only expressly assure everyone concerned that I at no time consciously took forbidden substances and I will be doing everything to have this cleared up completely," she said.

Frullani is blaming the positive test on a contaminated food supplement and reportedly told Italian officials that he had brought the product from a website based in the United States.

The drug that Frullani has tested positive for is better known as methylhexanamine and used in several energy-boosting dietary supplements and drinks. But it has been linked to a number of sudden deaths, including two American soldiers who suffered heart attacks after taking it.

Among previous sportsmen to have tested for it are South African distance runner Ludwick Mamabolo after he won the Comrades Marathon in 2012 and boxer Brando Rios, who, after losing a unanimous decision to Manny Pacquaio last December, was suspended by the China Professional Boxing Association after testing positive for the drug

Former decathlete Frullani has been sent home after positive test ©Getty ImagesFormer decathlete Frullani has been sent home after positive test ©Getty Images

He was due to compete in the four man bobsleigh for Italy at Sochi 2014 ©Bongarts/Getty ImagesHe was due to compete in the four man bobsleigh for Italy at Sochi 2014 ©Bongarts/Getty Images

He is married Ukrainian heptathlete Hanna Melnychenko, who won the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships title in Moscow last year

The 34-year-old Frullani is a former international decathlete who switched to the bobsleigh in 2012.

 Italian bobsledder William Frullani has been sent home from Sochi 2014 after a positive doping test. In a statement Friday, Italy's governing body CONI says it was informed by the International Olympic Committee that Frullani came up positive for the substance dymetylpentylamine in a test taken in the Olympic Village on February 18.

CONI says Frullani asked his B sample to be analysed and that was taken Friday and "confirmed the positive result, resulting in his exclusion from the Italian delegation."

CONI adds that it replaced Frullani on its four-man bobsled team with Samuele Romanini.

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"She has done nothing wrong. She despises something like that and would never dope"
-  Josef Bacher, brother of German biathlete Evi Sachenacher-Stehle, after reports that she has tested positive at Sochi 2014

Ukraine beat Russia to win women's 4 x 6km biathlon relay as Canada win curling gold

Off the top of my head - and where is insidethegames historian Philip Barker when you need him - I can think of several other examples of gold medals being won by countries in the middle of a national trauma. Hungary's victory over the Soviet Union in the Melbourne 1956 water-polo tournament so soon after the latter's invasion of the former is perhaps the most famous example.

Not in the Olympics but another which springs to mind is Alexander Dale Oen's win over 100m breaststroke at the 2011 World Swimming Championships so soon after the tragic events in Norway which led to the death of 77 people. Dale Oen of course tragically

Returning to that gold medal for Ukraine, there has been a lot of talk over recent days about whether the team should stay and compete or return home in light of the escalation in protests. With the exception of one skier who chose to stay but not compete the team chose to stay on to emphasise the power of unity through sport. 

Ukraine celebrate winning the gold medal at the Laura Biathlon Centre ©AFP/Getty ImagesUkraine celebrate winning the gold medal at the Laura Biathlon Centre
©AFP/Getty Images

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Girls dedicate their win to Ukraine! We waited 20 years for gold medal! And we needed it right now.Let this win unite Ukraine and bring peace!
- Another tweet by Sergey Bubka takes in the political ramifications.

The crowds gradually file out of the curling centre - but it takes the Canadian team an age to do so as they oh so deservedly take every opportunity to celebrate. 

A few smiles from the British team as they join Canada and bronze medal winners Sweden for the presentation of flowers - they would have hoped to be on the top step of the podium but have had a good tournament and were well and truly beaten by the better side today.

Canada celebrate beating Great Britain to win the curling gold medal ©Toronto Star/Getty ImagesCanada celebrate beating Great Britain to win the curling gold medal
©Toronto Star/Getty Images

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Ukraine wins gooooold! Thanks to the girls - Vita and Valja Semerenko, Julia Dhzyma and Olena Pidhrushna! Thanks to coaches and managers! You made it for Ukraine!
Ukraine NOC President and IOC Executive Board member Sergey Bubka tweets his reaction.

Back at the curling - from which we have been slightly diverted due to everything else that has been going on - there were wild Canadian celebration from players, officials and fans after a quite superb performance. 

 Vita Semerenko, Juliya Dzhyma, Valj Semerenko and Olena Pidhrushna win Ukriane's second ever Winter Olympic gold medal and the first for 20 years since Oksana Baiul won the ladies figure skating title at Lillehammer 1994

Ukraine head towards the finish line en route to winning a historic and symbolic gold medalUkraine head towards the finish line en route to winning a historic and symbolic gold medal  ©Getty Images

Sochi 2014 gold medal19:40
Ukraine win the gold medal! An amazing moment in the context of Sochi 2014 and current affairs. They finish 26 seconds ahead of Russia with Norway picking up the bronze. 

It does not really need to be said but the fact that they have beaten Russia to gold surely makes it mean that little bit more...

BREAKING: Food supplement blamed for positive doping test

A food supplement is being blamed by German ski officials for the positive doping test involving biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle. German Ski Federation spokesman Stefan Schwarzbach and biathlon lead coach Uwe Muessiggang claimed the unnamed substance was allegedly in a supplement and was not performance-enhancing.

German Olympic Sports Confederation President Alfons Hoermann confirmed a disciplinary hearing had been held for the athlete, who has still not been officially named, but no further announcement would be made until after discussions with the IOC.

Sochi 2014 gold medal19:36
Canada win a historic curling golden double. They increase their lead to 9-3 after eight ends and that is the gold medal won because Britain have conceded. 

The Canada fans at the curling, meanwhile, are getting more and more vocal. "Who rocks the house? Canada's rocks the house" is the chant, and a Wikipedia entry is already showing Canada as the 2014 men's curling champions, it is pointed out.

Slightly presumptuous maybe, but cannot see them being denied now as British skip David Murdoch allows himself a wry smile after enough strong Canadian shot in the eighth end.

Back to "lets go Canada, lets go" in terms of chanting now.

Russia then Norway then Canada are chasing Ukraine but the gap is still up towards 30 seconds and it will take shooting errors to deny them a historic gold surely.

Ukraine still lead by 28 seconds after three legs of the biathlon. Olena Pidhrushna on the final leg...

Not sure if any flags would help Britain now though. They pull one point back but that is not enough. Canada lead 8-3 after seven ends.

Back in the curling, and we are hearing reports that Scottish fans have been ordered to take down the Saltire flag by officials due to the fact that it contravenes IOC rules.

If true, this would not be the first time this has happened after Beijing 2008 officials said that only the Union Jack rather than the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish flags could be flown then, as was reported in insidethegames at the time - before being lifted ahead of London 2012. 

Valj Semerenko is next up for Ukraine - sister of Vita who competed on the first leg and won bronze earlier in the Games. Russia and Norway are chasing hard but the gap is well over 20 seconds. 

A long way to go but there are some wonderful examples of sporting triumph helping unite a troubled country...and could another example be brewing here?

Meanwhile, it is getting worse for Britain in the curling - they have slipped 8-2 behind. Canada are honing in on a historic curling golden double.

But we could have the story of the day on the sporting front developing as Ukraine surge into the lead after two legs of the biathlon relay... 

Juliya Dzhyma on leg two with Russia and Norway now in second and third as Italy fall back.

Into the second half of the curling and a rampant Canada look to extend their 6-2 advantage. "Britain have nothing to lose now so will be able to play some shots" is the rather optimistic rallying cry around the press benches in the curling centre - but they really do have some catching up to do.

The atmosphere has calmed down a lot from the start - but it is very different from anything else I have seen at Sochi 2014 so far. This is essentially because there are very few Russian supporters and cries of "Go Canada go" and "C'mon GB" are to the fore. Reminds me a little of watching Britain in a Davis Cup tennis match for some reason...

Unsurprisingly the Canadian supporters are the louder...

Italy are leading Russia and Ukraine towards the end of the first leg in the energy-sapping women's biathlon relay.

Canada's curling masterclass

Great Britain's men are in dire straits ©Getty ImagesGreat Britain's men are in dire straits ©Getty Images

Great Britain are falling apart over at the Ice Cube. They have last stone advantage in the fourth end, but fail to score. Canada increase their lead to 6-1. Curling gold has already been won by Canada's women, and the men are striding towards joining them in that feat.

The women are away in the biathlon relay. Can Norway add an eleventh Sochi gold to their ever burgeoning tally?

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"Most of my plan was to try and move my feet faster than anyone else. I guess I moved them about five-tenths faster."
- Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States assesses her slalom run, which has put her in the lead ahead of the second run later.

A big score of three in the third end for Canada sees them stretch their lead over Great Britain in the men's curling final to 5-1. An unassailable lead? No, but they can start humming their national anthem, perhaps.

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"I'm shocked. I am very surprised by this information."
- Eric Frenzel, winner of the men's 10km normal hill Nordic combined event at Sochi 2014, reacts to the news that German team-mate Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle is being investigated for doping.

Sweden are through to the final of the ice hockey. The United States or Canada will await. They play their semi-final at 21:00.

Into the dying seconds of the men's ice hockey semi-final, and Sweden still hold that 2-1 lead.

If Sachenbacher-Stehle's positive drugs test is confirmed, she will be only the second German to fail at a Winter Olympics. The only previous occasion involved West German ice hockey player Alois Scholder, who tested positive for ephedrine. The team doctor, Franz Schlickenrieder, first declared having no part of this, and Schloder was suspended. After returning home, it was finally found that one of the medicines he had been given by Schlickenrieder did contain ephedrine. Schloder's name was finally cleared, and in 1976 he won a bronze medal at the Innsbruck Olympics.

But another German-born skier Johan Mühlegg was stripped of three gold medals he had won at Salt Lake City in the cross country after testing positive for darbepoetin, a medicine that boosts the red blood count. Mühlegg, who had competed for Germany at Albertville 1992, Lillehammer 1994 and Nagano 1998, had switched to Spain following a row with the German Federation. He won gold medals in the 30km freestyle and the 10km and 10km pursuit races in Salt Lake City, the successes gaining him congratulations from King Juan Carlos, before he was unmasked by a new drugs test.

If you're waiting for the next gold medal of these games to be won, then you won't have too long to wait before the women's biathlon relay. That gets underway in just over 30 minutes.

Canada, with the advantage of the hammer, go up 2-0 after the first end. But the British quartet will feel relieved it wasn't more, because Canada dominated that end.

Sweden have edged ahead 2-1 in the ice hockey as we get ready for the third period.

Meanwhile, over at the skiing, things have stayed as they were at the top of the timesheets, with Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States almost half a second ahead. The second slalom runs begin at 20:15.

Nick Butler ©ITGNick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Ice Cube Curling Centre

Nick Butler's vantage point in the Ice Cube Curling Centre ©ITGNick Butler's vantage point in the Ice Cube Curling Centre ©ITG

Met by a hail of Canadian flags outside the curling centre as the country prepares to attempt to become the first to win women and men's titles at the same Olympics. But once inside the British flags are evident as well along with a few chants and songs as the atmosphere begins to build.

The players were out on the ice warming up until a few moments ago. A few training slides, a few sweeps and a few lunges, and both sides look ready to go...

And now the bagpipes are playing...

Broom time shortly, as Canada look to defend their Olympic title against Great Britain in the men's curling final.

Punches have been thrown as things get hot-blooded at the men's ice hockey quarter-final between Sweden and Finland. They are currently locked at 1-1 with six minutes of the second period left.

Team USA choose Closing Ceremony flag bearer

Four-times Olympic women's ice hockey medallist Julie Chu has been chosen as the flag bearer for the United States team at Sunday's closing ceremony, the country's Olympic Committee has announced.

Forward Chu, who won silver yesterday as well as in 2002 and 2010 and bronze in 2006, was chosen for the honour by a vote of fellow athletes. She is tied as the second most decorated American female in Olympic Winter Games history.

"I'm completely humbled and kind of in shock; I never imagined that this would happen, especially knowing how strong the U.S. delegation is," said Chu.

Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States has really pulled it out of the bag, with an almost half a second advantage over Maria Höfl-Riesch of Germany in the slalom. Tina Maze of Slovenia is in third.

It's a sobering reminder of the dangers of winter sports. Our thoughts at insidethegames are with the friends and family of Matthew Robinson.

BREAKING: Para-snowboarder Matthew Robinson dies en route to Melbourne

Matthew Robinson ©APC
Some sad news ahead of the Winter Paralympics, Australian Para-snowboarder Matthew Robinson, who suffered serious head and neck injuries after a crash during the IPCAS World Cup finals in La Molina Spain last week, has died.

After spending eight days in the Hospital Parc Tauli in Sabadell on the outskirts of Barcelona - where he underwent surgery to treat his injuries - he was stabilised before being cleared by medical staff to be transported on board a specialised Air Ambulance to Melbourne, Australia.

Tragically, Robinson suffered a cardiac arrest on board the aircraft during a scheduled stop in Kuwait. CPR was administered by the Air Ambulance medical crew. Sadly, he could not be revived.

Developing story here.

Slovenian Tina Maze crosses the line 0.18 seconds shy of Maria Höfl-Riesch, but it's good enough for second.

Combined gold medallist Maria Höfl-Riesch of Germany is the early leader of the slalom.

 Disappointment for Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden, who straddles a gate and is forced to stop in her tracks.

Can Slovenia's Tina Maze add a third gold medal to her Sochi haul? The first run of two in the women's slalom is about to begin at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre.

It remains goalless between Sweden and Finland at the end of the first period of their men's ice hockey match. 

Sporting round-up 

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Here. We. Go. # os14
Sweden's IOC member Stefan Holm seems a little bit excited as the ice hockey semi-final begins in the Bolshoy. He has also posted this picture...

The men's ice hockey semi-final gets underway between Sweden and Finland ©TwitterThe men's ice hockey semi-final gets underway between Sweden and Finland ©Twitter

The women''s slalom gets underway in 45 minutes and the men's curling final in around 90 minutes - but until then we have ice-hockey in the shape of the first men's semi-final between Sweden and Finland.

I dare not call it an all-Scandinavian match-up any more after being criticised after daring to before but this North European derby looks set to be a thriller. The world champions against a Finland team who are being heralded as giant-killers for knocking out Russia but that is not really the case.

At Vancouver 2010 they won the bronze medal and four years before that in Turin they won silver after being beaten by today's opponents Sweden in the final. 

A great picture of the Canadians out in front in the women's ski-cross final ©AFP/Getty ImagesA great picture of the Canadians out in front in the women's ski-cross final ©AFP/Getty Images

And Sweden win the bronze medal in men's curling! A couple of mistakes at the death from China and their final stone slides past after some great blocking work from Swedish skip Niklas Hedin.

We have some tidying up to do on the sports front after than frantic half an hour or so on with that doping news. 

A superb performance by Marielle Thompson in the ski-cross. She was fastest out of the blocks and then never looked like getting caught. Second was compatriot Kelsey Serwa with Anna Holmland of Sweden taking bronze.

In fourth place is Ophelie David of France afer she crashes on one of the final jumps when frantically chasing. 

Unnamed German athlete, reported by German news agency DPA to be double Olympic gold medal winning biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, has adverse drugs test result at Sochi 2014

German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle is reportedly at the centre of a doping probe at Sochi 2014 ©AFP/Getty ImagesGerman biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle is reportedly at the centre of a doping probe at Sochi 2014 ©AFP/Getty Images

After the incident at Turin 2006 (see 15:12) Sachenbacher-Stehle undertook several medical tests to prove that the high amount of haemoglobin in her blood was a genetic condition and not due to doping. She tried to achieve an exemption from the official haemoglobin limit for the following season, but her claim was denied by the FIS in October 2006.

The DOSB have announced that they will not confirm the name of the athlete who has tested positive until after the B sample has been analysed.

She married German alpine skier Johannes Stehle in July 2005.

 Sachenbacher-Stehle has also won six medals at the FIS World Championships, including gold at Val di Fiemme 2003 in the 4x5km.

The 33-year-old from Traunstein has won Olympic gold medals at Salt Lake City 2002 in the 4x5km and Vancouver 2010 in the team sprint. She had also won silver medals in the individual sprint at Salt Lake City, 4x5km at Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010.

This is not the first occasion Sachenbacher-Stehle has been involved in a doping controversy at the Olympics. While a cross country skier, she received a five-day suspension at the beginning of the 2006 Winter Olympics due to a high hemoglobin level. She was one of 12 athletes given five-day suspensions for health reasons – the International Ski Federation decided they could not safely compete due to an abnormally high red blood cell counts.At those Games she went on to win a silver medal in the 4 x 5km relay.

German news agency DPA are reporting that the athlete who has tested positive is biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, winner of five Olympic medals, including two gold, but none here. She had previously been a cross country skier and switched to biathlon two years ago. Her best result had been fourth in the women's 12.5km mass start and in the 2x6km women + 2x7.5km men mixed relay. No official confirmation yet. 

15:01 Marielle Thompson wins gold in a Canadian 1-2!Sochi 2014 gold medal

14:59 Right - the ski-cross small final is won by Sandra Naeslund of Sweden. Who will win the big one? They are in the starting positions...

Russians pinch Virgin Trains' toilet humour for Winter Olympics!

14:55 Some interested signs have been spotted in the toilets around Sochi over recent days - which bear a striking resemblance with signs produced by Virgin Trains in Britain several years ago...

Some toilet humour in the bathrooms in Sochi ©TwitterSome toilet humour in the bathrooms in Sochi ©Twitter

Quote graphic"In my 20 plus years of involvement in British winter sport, I have never seen an Olympic team better prepared, confident and with such high expectation of themselves than this one, and surpassing the target of at least three medals just shows that we were right to be excited about their prospects"
- Simon Timson, UK Sport's Director of Performance, begins beating the drum ahead of tonight's men's curling final where Team GB are guaranteed a fourth Sochi 2014 medal, their best performance since 1924.

14:46 Marielle Thompson and Ophelie David secure the top two slots in the second semi. 

14:42 Still 3-3 after eight ends in the curling bronze medal match - but good news for Sweden in the ski-cross as Anna Holmlund breaks clear in the first semi-final to cross the line first ahead of Kelsey Serwa of Canada.

Katrin Ofner of Austria and Fanny Smith of Switzerland place third and fourth.

14:38 Marielle Thompson of Canada and Ophelie David of France keep up their good form to win the remaining two quarter-finals and we are straight on and into the semis - they don't mess around here... Between the fog breaks that is.

twitter logoBAM! Thank you Canada, we always believed and we r glad you did too! #goldfeelsgood
- What a day it was for Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser. Voted onto the IOC Athletes' Commission and then a fourth straight Olympic gold medal.

14:32 Meanwhile Sweden draw level and it is 3-3 in the bronze medal match with China. Seven ends gone and three to play.

14:30 Kelsey Serwa of Canada and Katrin Ofner of Austria are the two quarter-final winners so far with two more to go.

14:26 And then Stephanie Joffroy of Chile also crashes and is stretchered off...

14:20 Into the quarter-finals in the ski-cross but there are delays for several nasty looking injuries. Germany's Anna Woerner suffers the most after a high-speed fall. She is treated on the course and then lifted away on a stretcher. We will bring you more information about that as it comes though it looks like a knee injury... Georgia Simmerling of Canada also fails to finish the same heat...

14:16 China score twice in the sixth end to edge ahead 3-2 over Sweden in the bronze medal match.

Sporting repercussions of Ukraine violence

14:05 The Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation has cancelled an international acrobatic gymnastics tournament in the wake of the fresh violence in Kyiv's Independence Square that has left at least 75 people dead since Tuesday. More information can be found in our latest article here.

13:49 Sweden take a 2-1 lead in the curling bronze medal match, after five out of 10 ends, while the knock out rounds in ski cross are also getting going. 

13:27 Meanwhile it is 1-1 in the curling bronze medal match between Sweden and China.

13:18 We will bring you more news on that drugs test result as we get it but for now - it is back to the sport. The seeding runs of the women's ski-cross are over - and Canada's Kelsey Serwa leads from France's Ophelie David and another Canadian Marielle Thompson. Pretty meaningless though as the real action will begin soon with the knock-out rounds. 

Unnamed German athlete has adverse drugs test result at Sochi 2014

13:04 This comes following the words of German IOC President Thomas Bach last November that a positive drugs test would overshadow the achievement of any team at Sochi 2014. 

12:53 An unnamed German athlete's A drug sample at the Sochi Winter Games is abnormal and a second sample will be tested later on Friday, it has just been announced by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB)

The DOSB added that they were informed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday evening and a disciplinary commission would convene later in the day following the B sample being tested.

Sporting action 

Action has also begun in the men's bronze medal match in curling. After one end between Sweden and China it remains 0-0.

12:41 Kelsey Serwa of Canada is the new leader in the seeding run of the ski-cross - after she went a mammoth 0.01 of a second faster than Ophelie David of France...

Beach Volleyball at the Winter Olympics? 

12:25 To remind you that there is a summer sport presence here in Sochi...

The mayor of the Sochi 2014 Mountain Olympic Village and 2006 Olympic champion in speed skating, Svetlana Zhurova, took time out from her official duties today to challenge some of her volunteer team to a beach volleyball match in the Gorky Gorod Mall.

Sochi Olympic speed skating champion, Svetlana Zhurova, battles it out ©FIVBSvetlana Zhurova and  Sochi 2014 volunteers at the Gorky Gorod Mall ©FIVB

Zhurova said afterwards that "the volunteers up in the Mountain Olympic Village have been absolutely fantastic, so I wanted to give them a treat on their day off."

She added: "Sochi is such a versatile sports city, and volleyball is a versatile sport. Obviously Sochi will be a national centre of excellence for our winter sports athletes after the Games, but who's to say summer federations won't be taking advantage of the climate and the facilities here too!" 

International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) President Ary Graça also described how "volunteers make the Games experience. Sochi 2014's smiling, professional and helpful team has been a credit to the Organising Committee and a credit to Russia. And today's little game just goes to show - volleyball really is a game for everyone, everywhere!"

Read our report on a round-table discussion with Graça here in Sochi last week. He spoke about how he is working to improve volleyball's presence within the Olympic Movement...

12:11 Unfortunately we've been having a few delays due to the fog up at the Freestyle Centre. We've said that before over the last few days...

There has been some competition though - with Ophelie David of France the fastest so far in the seeding run. This is the section which was cancelled for the snowboard cross events and is purely to seed the competitors for the knock-out action to follow.

Another fantastic photo - from the men's ski-cross quarter final yesterday as three skiers slide over the line together. That certainly whets the appetite for today's women's event...

A photo finish from the men's ski cross quarter-finals yesterday ©Sochi 2014A photo finish from the men's ski cross quarter-finals yesterday ©Sochi 2014

11:57 Before we do that however, a quick look at some of the reaction to that figure skating result last night - the subject of several questions in the press briefing. 

Yuna Kim and Adelina Sotnikova following the conclusion of last nights event ©Getty ImagesYuna Kim and Adelina Sotnikova following the conclusion of last night's event
©Getty Images

It is fair to say that there has been something of a furore in South Korea over the result - while a petition has also been submitted to the website demanding an "Open Investigation into judging decisions of women's figure skating and demand rejudgement at the Sochi Olympics." It already has over 1.2 million signatures with that number rising all the time.

The petition concludes with the words: "This is not for Yuna Kim, this is for the fair sportsmanship that is supposed to be central to the world event of the Olympics." 

11:45 So we are just getting underway, as the morning draws to a close, in terms of sporting action with the qualifying runs of the ski-cross.

IOC and Sochi 2014 press briefing

11:32 And with a final flourish of statistics from Sochi 2014 spokeswomen Alexandra Kosterina - who was virtually silent today - we are over for another day. A relatively speedy briefing this morning. 

11:29 Will there be consequences of the political protest by Ukrainian athlete Bohdana Matsotska? The final question as it turns out, and Adams admits that while they would prefer these concerns not to be voiced, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

11:25 Podborski.praises the security arrangements that the Canadian team are very happy with - but next question is back to the figure skating officials. Is the IOC concerned that these judges can be chosen? But Adams is not going to be pushed...

11:24 More on figure skating judges and the fact that one had been banned in the past and another was married to a Russian figure skating official. We are being premature says Adams. It was a wonderful performance and what we should be doing now is congratulating the winner.

11:21 Is the skiing course dangerous? Not due to the conditions, says Lewis. Accidents are hazards of the sport and the competition. Venues have been developed in an excellent way. Wide course makes it easier for passing and overtaking fallen athletes in the ski and snowboard cross, she adds. 

Athletes love the course and love the challenge - they were pumped, says Podborski.

11:18 The expected question on Ukraine and how many athletes have left? Obviously keen to avoid yesterday's confusion, Adams says it is up to the Ukrainian Olympic Committee to comment on that but he understands that most have stayed here.

11:15 Questions on the alleged "fixing" of last night's women's figure skating results. We have had no complaint from anyone and will not do anything or comment unless we do, says Adams.

11:10 The main topic of discussion this morning is the ski course Sarah Lewis - the secretary-general of the International Ski Federation and the Canadian Chef de Mission Steve Podborski

11:02 Right, it is gone 11:00 and you know what that means? Yes - it's the daily IOC and Sochi 2014 press briefing - I'm sure you have all been counting down the minutes to it...

"Sorry I'm a little hoarse today," begins IOC spokesman Mark Adams. "I was at the ice hockey last night - for those of you who didn't see it, it really was an amazing match."

I can report that the daily highlights video is in full working order today...

insidethegames Olympic historian Philip Barker on some repetition in the music choice

philip barker
Did you notice that the Italian skater Carolina Kostner performed to Bolero, Torvill and Dean's winning ice dance music, last night. Very strange to see another skater using the same music.

10:46 Incidentally,, if you are wondering why the women's slalom event has not started it does not begin until 16:45 this afternoon in a deviation from the Alpine skiing norm. It is going to be a busy old evening here in Sochi I can tell you...

Who's the best of the best?

10:39 Some interesting research carried out by the Wall Street Journal and Sochi 2014 on which gold medal winners have produced the "best" performances based on how far ahead of the average performance they were in their event. Poland hold the bragging rights as you can see...

What do you think the best performance of Sochi 2014 so far has been. Tweet @insidethegames with your answer!

An interesting study into the best performers at Sochi 2014 ©TwitterAn interesting study into the best performers at Sochi 2014 ©Twitter

Ovechkin remains in Sochi following Russia ice hockey exit

Some more sad news to report after Russian ice hockey forward Alex Ovechkin, also the first Russian torchbearer of the Sochi 2014 Torch Relay back in October, has remained in Sochi to be with his father Mikhail, who is recovering from a heart attack.

"His father had a heart attack while he was in Sochi," said Sergey Kocharov, senior director of communications with Ovechkin's National Hockey League team, the Washington Capitals.

"Ovechkin's father suffered the heart attack shortly after Russia's game against Slovakia.

"But the player was not informed until after the elimination game against Finland. He is with his father right now. He will remain with him. We're taking it day by day now."

A special charter flight carrying NHL players from teams already eliminated from Sochi 2014 departed from Sochi on Thursday without Ovechkin.

Can Ukraine win a medal today?

10:23 Ukraine have a genuine medal chance later on today in the women's biathlon relay. What a moment of unity and solidarity that would be the country at this time. 

Vita Semerenko is Ukraine's only medal winner so far in Sochi and she will be leading the relay team's attempt for more success today ©Getty ImagesVita Semerenko is Ukraine's only medal winner so far in Sochi and she will be leading the relay team's attempt for more success today ©Getty Images

10:19 Some more terrible news coming from Ukraine this morning after the health ministry announces that since Tuesday there have been 77 people dead and 577 injured in Kyiv. 

twitter logoThe Ukraine Olympic team will continue to participate in Sochi and hopefully raise the spirits of our compatriots back home.I share the common view that athletes who are representing Ukraine are promoting the mission to unite our nation at this horrifying time.
More messages posted by pole vault world record holder, IOC Executive Board member and Ukrainian NOC President Sergey Bubka last night.

Our report yesterday on the impact of the protest on the Ukraine team in Sochi can be read here. 

10:10 Incidentally the new Governor of Tokyo Yoichi Masuzoe is currently in Sochi and he will be meeting with the press today ahead of a meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach over the weekend. 

10:01 Some interesting comments by the new head of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, and former Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori, with regards to figure skater Mao Asada. Asada, a two time world champion finished sixth after a superb free skate last night but was never going to do much better than that due to a distinctly below par performance in the short programme the previous night. 

Mori, who has a reputation for being, shall we saw, slightly gaffe prone, said Asada has a habit of "always falling at the most critical time" of a competition and blamed her performances on her participation in the team event earlier in the Games - because "the psychological damage she incurred must have remained."

Mori also made a few interesting remarks in his press conference here last week - including the claim that he does not speak English because it is the "enemy's language" Read our article here. 

09:55 It is a little while before any competitive action begins here in Sochi. First up is the qualification run of the ladies ski cross but not until 11:45 and then 45 minutes later it will be the curling bronze medal match between China and Sweden. 

09:43 Back to the sport and there is plenty more in stall for us today. Seven gold medals will be won including three in short track speed skating and others in ski-cross, biathlon relay and women's slalom Alpine Skiing.

The most tense medal event is sure to come in curling however as Britain face Canada for the gold medal. Forget the 1966 World Cup or the 2012 home Summer Olympics, this is judgement day for Britain - while Canada will look to become the first team to win the men and women's titles at a single Games.

We also have the small matter of ice hockey semi-finals: Sweden v Finland and a chance for the US men to avenge their female counterparts and beat Canada.

A bet was made over two crates of beer yesterday between US and Canadian leaders Barrack Obama and Stephen Harper over the outcome of the two clashes between their respective countries. Obama is already one crate down after last night - but can he break even today?

09:32 There was also a lot happening elsewhere as Norway's Ole Einar Bjørndalen and Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser were voted onto the IOC Athletes Commission. Considering Wickenheiser won her fourth gold medal just a few hours later, she did not have a bad day all in all...

We also had more fallout from the dreadful events going on in Ukraine - with skier Bohdana Matsotska withdrawing from the Games  in protest - while we also had a first real glimpse of Almaty's bid for the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics.

Some more interesting news last night is that sandwich store franchise Subway, which is not an official sponsor of the Olympics, is currently in gold medal position in the Sochi 2014 marketing race, according to a new report exclusively seen by insidethegames. Read our article here. 

Canada celebrate their fourth successive ice hockey win last night over arch-rivals the US ©McClatchy-Tribune/Getty ImagesCanada celebrate their fourth successive ice hockey win last night over arch-rivals the US ©McClatchy-Tribune/Getty Images

The US didd have something to celebrate when Maddie Bowman won the halfpipe ©Getty ImagesThe US didd have something to celebrate when Maddie Bowman won the halfpipe ©Getty Images

Adelina Sotnikova celebrates gold for Russia in f

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About the author

Duncan Mackay Editor

Duncan Mackay

Duncan Mackay is the founding editor of, the world’s leading and most influential independent Olympic news website. He was voted the British Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, British News Story of the Year in 2004 and British Sports Internet Reporter of the Year in 2009. Mackay is one of Britain's best-connected journalists and during the 16 years he worked at The Guardian and The Observer he regularly broke several major exclusive stories. He was also the only newspaper journalist in Britain to correctly predict that London would win its bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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