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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russians Appeal Drugs Decision

Russian cross-country skiers Larisa Lazutina and Olga Danilova plan to appeal the International Olympic Committee's decision to disqualify them from Olympic races for using drugs, their lawyer announced Tuesday.

Lazutina and Danilova both tested positive for darbepoetin on the final day of the Salt Lake City Games. They had passed drug tests several times during World Cup events and before leaving for Salt Lake City.

Lazutina, 36, was forced to give up her victory in the 30-kilometer classical race and her record-tying 10th Olympic medal. She was allowed to keep the two silver medals she won in the 15K freestyle and the pursuit.

Danilova was disqualified from an eighth-place finish in the 30K but was not stripped of gold and silver medals she won earlier in the pursuit and 10K classical races, respectively.

"I consider we've been treated absolutely unfair. If we skip the case, we will be treated the same way at the next Olympics and all other events. It's a matter of principle," Lazutina said.

"What happened with our skiers came from the negative attitude toward Russia. Several facts show that forces were aimed to blacken Russian sportsmen and Russia," lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said.

The skiers plan to argue that darbepoetin was not on the list of banned substances, and that a new method of testing not yet certified by the IOC was used.

Darbepoetin boosts the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to muscles in a way similar to EPO, which is banned. It is so new that it is not on the IOC's list of banned substances, but officials said it was covered as a substance "related" to EPO and acted swiftly.

Russia has a precedent in its arguments from a case in 1996 when several athletes were accused of using bromantan at the Atlanta Games. The drug was a new one then and was also not on the list of the banned substances, and Russia won the case.

The appeal was expected to be filed Tuesday to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. Hearings in the case are expected to take three to five months.