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Russia Criticizes Decision to Take Medals Away from Olympic Skier - 2003-06-30

Russian Olympic officials have criticized the decision to strip a Russian cross-country skier of her remaining medals from the 2002 winter games because of positive drug tests.

Russian Olympic Committee spokesman Gennady Shvets Monday questioned the approach of reconsidering previously awarded medals, saying it should logically lead to stripping medals from U.S. track and field star Carl Lewis because of his alleged drug use.

The International Olympic Committee took away Larissa Lazutina's two silver medals during a meeting Sunday in Prague.

Ms. Lazutina had already lost a gold medal after testing positive for a banned endurance-enhancing drug, darbepoetin, at the games. Officials had allowed her to keep two silver medals because she passed drug tests in those races.

But it was later learned that Ms. Lazutina and another Russian skier Olga Danilova had tested positive for the same drug months earlier. After international ski officials banned them for two years, they filed several appeals that were turned down.

At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ms. Lazutina won a gold medal in the 30-kilometer classical race. She won silver medals in the 15-kilometer free mass start and the five-kilometer free pursuit.