Austrian Skier Hans Knauss Suspended

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WENGEN, Switzerland Jan. 12, 2005(AP by Erica Bulman) - Austrian skier Hans Knauss was temporarily suspended Wednesday for steroid use and could be banned for two years.

Knauss tested positive for nandrolone following his fourth-place finish in a World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Nov. 27. His backup sample also was positive, the international federation said.

Under international rules, athletes found guilty of using steroids face a two-year ban. Such a penalty most likely would end the 33-year-old skier's career. Knauss has won seven races in his 14 years on the World Cup circuit and wants to compete in the world championships, which begin Jan. 28 and run through Feb. 13.

Sarah Lewis, secretary general of the ski federation (FIS) , said Knauss has three options _ accept the suspension, submit a written defense to the federation's doping panel or request a personal hearing.

A hearing for Knauss has been scheduled by FIS between Feb. 16 and 18 in Oberstdorf, Germany, said Christian Flick, the skier's legal adviser. But Lewis said Knauss could request an expedited process so the case would be settled before the worlds in Bormio, Italy. However, this would preclude the option of a personal hearing.

``Our main goal must be to clear Hans of cheating on the one hand, and on the other hand give him a chance to return to the slopes as soon as possible,'' Flick said.

Knauss contends supplements he took were tainted with nandrolone, which was not listed as an ingredient on the container.

There have been few doping cases in Alpine skiing. France's Christelle Guignard was stripped of her bronze medal in giant slalom from the 1989 world championships for a positive test. More recently, Britain's Alain Baxter lost his 2002 Olympic slalom bronze medal after testing positive for the banned stimulant.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press