Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, a 33-year-old biathlete competing on behalf of Germany in the Sochi Games and owner of five Olympic Medals, was revealed to have tested positive on Monday for methylhexanamine, a banned substance. Originally marketed in 1944 as a nasal decongestant, the substance is banned as an unsafe dietary supplement. Sachenbacher-Stehle would be the first athlete to test positive at the 2014 Olympics.
While Sachenbacher-Stehle had been an Olympic Athlete since 2002, where she won a Gold Medal (for cross-country skiing) in Salt Lake City, she had not received a medal in Sochi despite competing in five different events, per the Associated Press. The Biathlete had previously run afoul of the IOC in 2006, when she was suspended from the Turin Games for five days after testing revealed high hemoglobin levels.
Hemoglobin, the protein molecule in red blood cells that’s used to carry oxygen, is a common target for athletes seeking an edge. High hemoglobin increases the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, which helps muscles do more than they would be able to normally. All methods of “blood doping” (as it’s called by the IOC) were banned in 1985 after doping swept the Olympic contests of the early ’80s.
All five of Sachenbacher-Stehle’s Olympic Medals (two gold, three silver) have come in cross country skiing. While she has an additional five World Championship medals, she has never medaled in the biathlon. Her highest result at the Sochi Olympics was fourth in a pair of events, the mixed relay and the 12.5k mass start.
Prior to the games at Sochi, biathletes made headlines when two Russian competitors were suspended for failing blood tests. The Russian Federation (more commonly known as Russia) was famously fined 50,000 euros by the International Biathlon Union in 2010 after five of its competitors failed tests in 2010. The IOC has recently been vocal about designing a four-year ban for any athlete that tests positive in a doping test.