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Paralympian Suspended After Failing Drug Test - 2002-03-13

The leading Paralympian from Germany has been suspended from the Olympic-style games held for disabled athletes after he failed a drug test.

Thomas Oelsener, who has won gold medals in biathlon and the five-kilometer cross country race at the Salt Lake City Paralympics, was suspended Tuesday from the 10-kilometer cross country ski event.

If the drug test is confirmed to be positive, Oelsener would become the first athlete ejected from a winter Paralympics for taking a banned substance.

The International Paralympic Committee convened a hearing into the case Tuesday, and handed a recommendation to its executive board. German officials are waiting the decision by the board.

The 31-year-old Oelsener is considered the leader of the German Paralympic team. He won four gold medals in the 1994 Lillehammer Games.

There has never been a positive doping results at the Winter Paralympics, which were first held in 1976 in Sweden.

Drug cases have come up in the summer Paralympics, with 11 doping cases registered at the 2000 Summer Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia. All of the athletes, including 10 weight lifters, were banned from the competition.