- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian biathlete Irina Starykh has been banned for two years for doping, the International Biathlon Union says.

Starykh had been considered a medal contender for February’s Sochi Olympics, but Russia withdrew her from its team after she tested positive for banned substance EPO in an out-of-competition test conducted December 23.

Starykh’s two-year ban runs through December 23, 2015, the IBU said in a website statement. All of her results after testing positive are invalid.

The Russian Biathlon Union says Starykh will not appeal.

Starykh had made a rapid rise to the top of biathlon. A former junior star, she missed four years of international competition before returning in 2013 and winning sprint gold at the European championships.

Before the Sochi Olympics, she was sixth in the women’s World Cup standings.

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