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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Pair Stripped of Title

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The International Skating Union said Wednesday it has suspended two-time world pairs champion Yelena Berezhnaya of Russia for three months and stripped her and her partner of their European Championship title for failing a drug test.

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

In their absence, fellow Russians Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov won the gold medal in the pairs event.

Berezhnaya said the substance was taken inadvertently when she used a cough syrup prescribed to her in the United States to treat bronchitis.

The skating union also suspended lower-ranked Yevgeny Sviridov of Uzbekistan for three months for a similar offense.

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and their respective placements, prize money as well as the European title and medal for Berezhanya/Sikarulidze are withdrawn,'' said a statement from the skating union.

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

The skating union 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.