- Associated Press - Sunday, February 23, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - At the midpoint of the Sochi Games, not yet marred by a single case of doping, the IOC’s top medical official said its efforts to catch drug cheats were so successful they had scared them all away.

A week later, after the disclosure of a fifth doping case on the final day of the games, IOC President Thomas Bach cited the positive tests as the sign of success.

Who’s right? To Bach, it doesn’t much matter.

“The number of the cases for me is not really relevant,” Bach said. “What is important is that we see the system works.”

The number of positive tests grew to six later Sunday when the Swedish Olympic Committee said hockey player Nicklas Backstrom had tested positive for a substance found in an allergy medication that he has taken for seven years.

The Washington Capitals center, by far the biggest name athlete to fail a drug test at the games, was scratched from Sweden’s 3-0 loss to Canada in the gold medal game.

During the course of the Sochi Olympics, Bach said Sunday, more than 2,631 athlete samples were analyzed for doping - nearly 200 more than planned. It wasn’t until the final few days of the games that any came back positive, although it’s possible more could be announced in the next few days as tests are completed on samples taken in the final week of the games.

None of the six athletes thrown out of the games for doping in Sochi won medals, although Sweden won silver without Backstrom in the lineup. Five of the six, including Backstrom, tested positive for minor stimulants that are often found in food supplements and result in lesser sanctions.

“When you look at the substances taken, most of them stimulants, which have been detected, then look at the quantities, you see how far advanced the analysis is,” Bach said.

The sixth positive was for EPO, the classic doping substance of choice in endurance sports. It’s used to boost an athlete’s count of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the muscles, increasing stamina and endurance.

Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Duerr admitted to using EPO after he tested positive in a sample taken in Austria, where he had returned for training after competing on Feb. 9 in the men’s skiathlon. He placed eighth.

“This is the worst thing I’ve done in my life,” Duerr told Austrian TV. “This is very, very tough. You can’t explain this in three sentences.”

Duerr was sent home hours before he was due to compete in Sunday’s 50-kilometer mass start cross-country ski race. In Sochi, Austrian Olympic Committee President Karl Stoss said “it’s a black day for us” and tried to distance his team from Duerr. The positive comes eight years after the nation’s cross-country and biathlon teams were involved in a blood-doping scandal that tarnished the 2006 Turin Olympics.

“The athlete himself confessed that he is the only one who did that and he takes all the responsibility on himself,” Stoss said.

Austria’s sports director for cross-country, Markus Gandler, said the “team is broken” and called Duerr’s actions a matter of “heavy doping.”

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