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Russian Larionov's suspension reduced by ISU

Pair skater's appeal upheld; he can return to competition in July

Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov won the bronze medal at 2007 Skate America.
Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov won the bronze medal at 2007 Skate America. (Michelle Harvath)

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By Todd Hinckley
(05/04/2009) - Russian Yuri Larionov got some good news from the International Skating Union (ISU) a few weeks ago. His petition was upheld, and his suspension will now only last until July 17, 2009.

During the fall of 2007, Larionov and his partner, Vera Bazarova, were the darlings of pair skating. As the reigning world junior silver medalists, they had a strong start to the season, highlighted by a gold and silver medal in the Junior Grand Prix Series, a bronze medal at 2007 Skate America -- their international senior-level debut -- and a gold at the Junior Grand Prix Final. They then finished sixth at the Russian championships in January 2008, but they have not taken the ice in competition since.

On November 26, 2007, in an out-of-competition drug test, Larionov tested positive for Furosemide, a prohibited substance. Roughly four months later, the ISU decided on his case and suspended the Perm-based skater for two years, retroactive to January 18, 2008.

But the revised ISU Anti-Doping Rules, which became effective January 1, 2009, called for a less severe sentence, and Article 18.7.3 of the new policy "explicitly provides for the possibility to apply for the reduction of the period of ineligibility imposed by the ISU under rules in force prior to the effective date of the currently valid ISU Anti-Doping Rules in light of the amendments made to the World Anti-Doping Code, provided such application is made before the period of ineligibility has expired."

So, the Figure Skating Federation of Russia helped file the petition for Larionov, who had already proved that he did not take the substance with the intent of improving performance. His negligence in taking Furosemide was not of such importance as to require the maximum sentence.

The ISU's decision reduced the ineligibility period for Larionov, now 22, to 18 months, and it will end on July 17, 2009.

The Russian will attempt to continue his career at that time.