Image Credit: GEPA

The International Ski Federation (FIS) announced on Friday that it intends to strip German skier Stephan Luitz of his first career World Cup victory from the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colorado, earlier this month for illegally using supplemental oxygen.

Luitz was photographed with an oxygen mask on during the men’s World Cup GS in Beaver Creek on Dec. 7. The photograph was brought to the attention of the FIS in the days following the race and an investigation was launched.

FIS rules ban the use of supplemental oxygen in competition, although its use is allowed by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA). The German Ski Federation (DSV) admits to administering oxygen to Luitz and claims that they were under the impression that FIS had adopted the WADA ruling on supplemental oxygen, which went into effect in January of this year, and did not violate any doping regulations.

According to the FIS rulebook, “competition results achieved after the use of the equipment shall be automatically disqualified.”

Confusion initially arose as to whether the infraction was to be treated as a serious doping violation or a simple breaking of FIS rules. According to the FIS, although Luitz’s infraction involves the FIS anti-doping and medical regulations, it is not categorized in the same way as the use of steroids or other performance-enhancing methods are.

“It’s part of the anti-doping and medical guide regulation but it’s related to a prohibited method so it’s very different from blood doping or taking of anabolic steroids and different offenses are categorized in different ways,” said FIS Secretary General, Sarah Lewis. “This is just a breach of the regulations.”

The DSV now has two weeks to either accept the FIS ruling or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the Swiss-based judicial body that handles legal disputes of this nature in the sporting world.

If the DSV either accepts the FIS decision or loses in court on appeal, Luitz stands to lose 100 World Cup GS points and all of his prize winnings from Beaver Creek, totaling 45,000 Swiss Francs ($45,100). This will be the only punishment for the violation, according to Lewis.

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Sean Higgins
Senior Editor
- A Lake Tahoe native and University of Vermont graduate, Higgins was a member of the Catamounts' 2012 NCAA title winning squad and earned first team All-American honors in 2013. Prior to coming to Ski Racing Media, he coached U14s for the Squaw Valley Ski Team.
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