FILE UNDER -- Alpine

Hans Knauss of Austra suspended after second positive test

Hans Knauss of Austra suspended after second positive testWENGEN, Switzerland – Austrian skier Hans Knauss was temporarily suspended Wednesday for steroid use and could be banned for two years, prompting his country to leave him off its team for the upcoming world championships.

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.

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 Jan. 28-Feb. 13 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.

The Austrian ski federation said that because of the temporary suspension, Knauss will not take part in the worlds and will be replaced. The federation, however, said in a statement that it believed Knauss has “committed no offense worthy of punishment.”

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.

-Associated Press Writer Harry Miltner in Vienna, Austria, contributed to this report.

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