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8 Cross-Country Olympic Skiers Suspended for Having High Red Blood Cell Counts


Eight cross-country skiers - including a former gold medalist - have been suspended for having high red blood cell counts at the Turin Olympics.

The eight were suspended for health reasons and not for doping. They include 2002 gold medalist Evi Sachenbacher of Germany.

A high red blood cell count can occur naturally, but can also result from taking endurance-boosting drugs such as EPO. Two Americans - Kikkan Randall and Leif Zimmermann - are among the eight.

The International Ski Federation says the suspensions are not punishments, but to protect the athletes' health.

The U.S. Ski Federation says the suspensions are retroactive to Wednesday when the tests were conducted. The only cross-country events that fall within the five-day suspension are the men's and women's pursuit races Sunday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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