Germans forge ahead in Olympic medal ranks

21st February 2006, Comments 0 comments

21 February 2006, TURIN, ITALY - Germany consolidated its lead at the top of the Turin Olympic medals table with victory in the men's biathlon 4x7.5-kilometres relay Tuesday.

21 February 2006

TURIN, ITALY - Germany consolidated its lead at the top of the Turin Olympic medals table with victory in the men's biathlon 4x7.5-kilometres relay Tuesday.

But neighbours Austria finished dead last under the cloud of another doping raid by Italian police and the departure of two of their athletes.

And Norway, the 2002 Olympic and 2005 world champions, had to settle for fifth as its crushingly disappointing poor form in Nordic skiing continued.

Ricco Gross, Michael Roesch, sprint champion Sven Fischer and 20km champion Michael Greis could afford one penalty loop en route to a convincing fourth Olympic gold in the event following triumphs in 1992, 1994 and 1998 - with Gross a member of every team.

It made up for the poor sixth-place finish at the 2005 worlds in Hochfilzen, Austria.

Russia took the silver while France stole the bronze in a photo- finish from Sweden.

For the Austrians, battered by doping speculation and the departure of two of their skiers who feared they may be arrested by Italian police, it was no surprise to see them finish last in 16th place.

And Norway seem unable to shake off their poor form. They have yet to win at Nordic skiing in these Games and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, a five-time gold-medallist in 2002, has only one more chance for gold in the mass start race.

The Austrians announced that police had found no suspicious substances or equipment in the latest raid.

But Markus Gandler, the biathlon and cross-country director in the Austrian ski federation, said two coaches had left Italy after police filed charges against Walter Mayer, the coach who is banned after being found in possession of banned blood doping equipment at the Salt Lake City Games.

Italy has the strictest anti-doping laws in the world, with imprisonment of up to three years possible for athletes and up to six for coaches, doctors or officials.

Mayer's appearance in Italy, albeit in a private capacity, led to the first police raid.

Germany's Georg Hettich took the lead after the ski jumping portion of the Nordic combined sprint and world champion pair Sandra Kiriasis and Anja Schneiderheinze led fellow Germans Susi Erdmann and Nicole Herschmann into the last two runs of the women's bobsleigh.

Other medals to come were in the men's 1,500 metre speedskating while Irina Slutskaya will maintain Russia's attempt to sweep the figure skating medals when she opens in the women's short programme.

DPA

Subject: German news

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