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Russian biathlete Vasilyeva banned for missed tests

SALZBURG, Austria (AP) — Russian biathlete Margarita Vasilyeva has been banned for 18 months after missing three drug tests. The International Biathlon Union says its disciplinary panel "took into account the athlete's degree of fault" when giving Vasilyeva a ban shorter than the standard two-year sanction. The 18-month ban still rules her out of the next two winter seasons.

Vasilyeva had said her packed travel schedule in her debut World Cup season meant she struggled with rules obliging athletes to give drug testers advance notice of their whereabouts for one hour each day.

The case comes at a time when the Russian biathlon team has been accused of widespread doping going back several years. Austrian authorities are also investigating allegations that bribes were paid to cover up failed tests.

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