KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - Weather worries. Track troubles. Ukraine’s unity. Domracheva dominating. And Bjoerndalen being brilliant.
Biathlon at the Sochi Olympics had it all.
And, yes, there was doping, too.
On the day of the final women’s event, former two-time cross-country gold medalist Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle was kicked out of the Olympics after testing positive for the stimulant methylhexanamine.
The German was stripped of two fourth-place finishes in what was the second doping case to rock biathlon in Sochi after Russia’s top-ranked competitor, Irina Starykh, pulled out before the games even started after failing a doping test.
The positive tests cast a shadow over the sport, which otherwise provided a string of memorable moments in the Caucasus Mountains that tower over Sochi.
In the women’s 4x6-kilometer relay, Ukraine won its first gold medal in 20 years on the same day lawmakers in Kiev decided to limit presidential authority after days of street battles that killed dozens of people and injured more than 500.
“Great proof of how sport can unite the nation,” Sergei Bubka, the pole vault great and leader of the Ukraine Olympic Committee, posted on Twitter.
IOC President Thomas Bach called the Ukrainian victory his standout memory of the Games, “really an emotional moment.”
There was drama, too, on the finishing line of the men’s mass start.
Emil Hegle Svendsen thought he had the race won and raised his arms in victory. Martin Fourcade thought otherwise and stretched for the line. A photo finish gave the win to Svendsen by only the margin of a ski-tip.
“It looked like a close finish but I had quite a good control of him,” Svendsen, probably bluffing, said afterward.
That race had been postponed for two days after persistent fog limited visibility on the shooting range and the downhill parts of the course.
It was the only biathlon event at the Olympics that had to be rescheduled, despite the track being affected by weather conditions varying from spring-like sunshine in the opening week to snow and rain later in the games.