U.S. Nordic Skier Suspended for Blood Doping : Kerry Lynch, Considered a Contender for a Medal, Will Miss Winter Olympics

Times Staff Writer

U.S. nordic-combined skier Kerry Lynch, who was considered a contender for a medal at the Winter Olympics next month in Calgary, Canada, was suspended Tuesday for all competitions in 1988 by the International Ski Federation because of his admission to blood doping.

International Ski Federation (FIS) officials said they will decide at their next Congress in June whether to extend the suspension for two additional years.

In response to a United States Ski Assn. (USSA) inquiry last month, Lynch, 30, admitted to blood doping on the eve of the 1987 World Championships in Oberstdorf, West Germany. Lynch finished second, the first time a U.S. skier has ever won a nordic-combined medal at the world championships.

In addition to the suspension, the FIS ordered Lynch to forfeit his medal.

A two-time Olympian, Lynch, who lives in Denver, was 13th at the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, and 18th at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Blood doping involves taking blood from an individual, freezing it, and then re-injecting it. According to doctors, red blood cells upon re-injection can produce greater stamina.

Although blood doping is against the rules of most international sports federations, cases have been documented in endurance sports such as cycling, distance running and cross-country skiing.

Nordic-combined is a two-day event with 70-meter jumping on the first day and 15 kilometers of cross-country skiing, although Lynch contended that it was a failure in his case.

Lynch told the USSA in December he had approval to pack his blood from Jim Page, who was director for the USSA's nordic program, and Doug Peterson, who was coach of the nordic combined team. Lynch would not identify the doctor who performed the medical procedure except to say he was not associated with USSA.

The FIS Tuesday suspended Page, who subsequently became a United States Olympic Committee staff member, and Peterson from all competitions in 1988. The FIS earlier dismissed Page as a technical delegate to the nordic combined event in Calgary.

Howard Peterson, USSA's secretary general, said he believed when he submitted the results of the inquiry to the FIS that he had an agreement for a more lenient penalty against Lynch.

He said FIS President Marc Hodler of Switzerland accepted his proposal that Lynch be suspended for one week in December and forfeit his medal. But Hodler apparently was overruled by other FIS officials.

Because there is no approved test to detect blood doping, it is virtually impossible for officials to prove an athlete is guilty of the practice unless he or she confesses.

"We had no proof," Howard Peterson said. "Kerry could have denied it. But we all tried to do what was fair."

Howard Peterson said the USSA cannot appeal until the FIS Congress in June, too late for Lynch to be re-instated for the Olympics.

Lynch was unavailable for comment. But in an interview in December, he said: "It was a mistake. It was an experiment that didn't work, but it's not something I'm going to try to defense. There will be a dark cloud for a while, but I'm really relieved it is in the open now and maybe I can put it behind me."

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