End of line for Yegorova?
Former world and Olympic champion Lyubov Yegorova has been dropped from the Russian team for next month's world Nordic skiing championships for breaking team rules at the Russian cross-country championships, which finished in Dyomino, some 360 kms north of Moscow, on Tuesday.
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Akentyev said the 36-year-old, who has won six Olympic and numerous world titles over the last decade, did not compete in Tuesday's 30km freestyle race, which served as a qualifier for the world championships, and left the team's training base along with her coach without any explanation.
"She was giving us constant problems and with such 'discipline' you can't have someone on the team, even if that someone is many times world and Olympic champion," he said. "We can't tolerate such an attitude anymore."
Yegorova became the first Russian athlete, man or woman, to be awarded the hero's medal in 1994 for winning three golds at two consecutive Winter Olympics in Albertville in 1992 and in Lillehammer two years later.
But she served a two-year ban after failing a dope test at the 1997 world championships, missing the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
CAREER OVER? "I THINK SO"
Asked if Yegorova's career had come to an end, Akentyev said: "I think so. At least her career as a member of the Russian national team is practically over. It's time for us to give a chance to some of our younger skiers."
The Russians named 10 men and eight women to compete at the world championships, to be held in Val di Fiemme, Italy, from February 18 to March 1.
They made drastic changes to their team following a doping scandal at last year's Salt Lake City Olympics, where Larisa Lazutina and Olga Danilova tested positive for the banned substance darbepoetin after the women's 30km cross-country race. The pair, who won numerous world and Olympic titles, are now serving a two-year ban while Olympic sprint champion Yulia Chepalova is taking a year off after having a baby last month.
On the men's side, Mikhail Ivanov, who is having a sub-par season after winning the 2002 Olympic title, made the team at the last minute.
Ivanov finished second behind Spain's Johann Muehlegg in the 50km classical race in Salt Lake City, but was promoted to gold after the German-born skier tested positive for darbepoetin. "He (Ivanov) is more of a dark horse now," said Russian head skiing coach Alexander Kravtsov. "But we're counting on up-and-coming Vasily Rochev and Vladimir Vilisov."
Men - Vasily Rochev, Vladimir Vilisov, Mikhail Ivanov, Andrei Shlyundikov, Vladimir Legotin, Sergei Kryanin, Vitaly Denisov, Andrei Nutrikhin, Sergei Novikov, Nikolai Bolshakov
Women - Olga Zavyalova, Liliya Vasilyeva, Nina Gavrylyuk, Yevgeniya Medvedeva, Yelena Burukhina, Maria Denisova, Natalya Korostylyova, Yekaterina Likhanova.