Dope discrepancy sets Yegorova free

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The French authorities have closed the doping case involving the Russian runner Olga Yegorova after a laboratory failed to explain why one of her urine samples was unusable.

A doping adviser at the French Sports Ministry said it remained unclear why two vials of Yegorova's urine, taken during a July meeting in France, did not match up. The A sample showed traces of the performance-enhancing EPO but for unknown reasons, the laboratory was unable to get a reading on the B sample.

As a result of the inconclusive tests the case has been closed ruling out police inquiries and sanctions against Yegorova. "The matter is closed, in the sense that there will be no real follow-up to the affair," Jacques Donzel, of the Sports Ministry, said. Donzel added that French officials would draw up a detailed written procedure for drug testing, specifying who can be present, how much time must pass between laboratory tests, and other measures designed to prevent such incidents.

Yegorova tested positive for EPO during the Golden League competition in Paris on 6 July. She was initially suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations but was then allowed to compete after the IAAF cited procedural flaws in the testing. She went on to win the 5,000-metre gold medal in Edmonton.

When officials discovered that one of Yegorova's samples was unreadable, the sports minister, Marie-George Buffet, asked the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory to carry out extra tests to see whether the sample had been tampered with or accidentally contaminated. The laboratory was unable to come up with answers.

French newspaper L'Equipe alleged that the sample may have been tampered with. Without citing sources, L'Equipe said the Russian representative present for the tests, Nikolai Durmanov, may have "been left alone with the samples" while they were being prepared.