LONDON (AP) — Two months after the closing ceremony, the Sochi Olympics broke a Winter Games record Friday when a Latvian hockey player became the eighth athlete disqualified for a positive doping test.
Ralfs Freibergs was retroactively kicked out of the games by the IOC after being found guilty of a steroid offense, the third hockey player and second from Latvia caught for doping in Sochi.
The International Olympic Committee said the 22-year-old defenseman tested positive for a testosterone-related steroid in a sample provided after Latvia's 2-1 loss to Canada in the quarterfinals on Feb. 19.
Another Latvian, Vitalijs Pavlovs, was disqualified in Sochi after testing positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine following the loss to Canada.
Swedish star Nicklas Backstrom was suspended from the Olympic final against Canada after a positive test for pseudoephdrine, which was contained in an allergy medication. He was allowed to keep his silver medal.
Freiberg's expulsion represents the eighth doping case overall from Sochi, surpassing the previous record of seven recorded at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. While there was only one positive test during the 2006 Games, the IOC also lists seven cases in Turin because of the police raids on the Austrian cross-country and biathlon team lodgings that led to subsequent doping sanctions.
"The number of the cases for me is not really relevant," IOC President Thomas Bach said on the final day of the Sochi Games on Feb. 23. "What is important is that we see the system works."
The IOC carried out a Winter Games record 2,812 tests in Sochi, including pre-competition and out-of-competition blood and urine controls. The samples are stored for 10 years so they can be retested when new methods become available.
Freibergs, who also plays for Bowling Green State University in Ohio, is the second Sochi athlete sanctioned over a serious doping substance. Austrian skier Johannes Duerr was expelled after testing positive for the blood booster EPO.