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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berezhnaya Ban Came for Cough Syrup




NICE, France -- World figure skating pairs champion Yelena Berezhnaya tested positive for a banned substance after taking cough medicine, her coach said Monday.


The failed drug test forced her and pairs partner Anton Sikharulidze to withdraw from this week's world championships.


Coach Tamara Moskvina told a packed news conference just minutes before the start of the pairs competition: "The skaters will not hide or run away."


Moskvina, who has coached numerous Russian and Soviet world champions, told reporters: "She does not feel guilty for what she did.


"We never thought medicine would increase artistry, improve their jumps or results in a competition."


Moskvina said the cough medicine containing the still unnamed stimulant had been prescribed by a doctor in the United States and that the skater had not knowingly done anything wrong.


"I will learn the lesson from this case that I have to be more careful," said Moskvina. "I will need to read a lot of scientific stuff and learn the names of many substances."


She added: "In all my years in the sport, we have always considered doping a great disgrace.


"We considered we were well prepared and well trained enough to win and have shown for years that we can win without help from drugs.


"The only special pill I gave them was artistry and preparation."


Under International Skating Union rules, Berezhnaya could face a possible three-month ban and the couple could be stripped of the European title they won last month in Vienna where the test was taken. She is the first woman in the sport's history to test positive.


Moskvina joked: "I was with her all day yesterday, and we were looking for a place on the mountains where we could jump into the sea.


"But then we discussed it and realized we had done nothing wrong ... that we weren't criminals.


"We were not ashamed of anything we did and that night we didn't end up in the sea but in a restaurant."


Neither Berezhnaya nor her partner attended the press conference.


Instead, they headed to Monte Carlo where they will wait out the championships for the opportunity to defend themselves at ISU council meetings on April 3 through April 4.


"They have done a great job for their country all these years, and I know the Russian Federation will support us," Moskvina said.