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Skier Dürr admits taking blood booster for over a year

Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Dürr, the fifth athlete to get kicked out of the Sochi Olympic Games after testing positive for doping, has revealed that he had been using the blood booster EPO for over a year.

Dürr has also spoken of the pressure of the expectations people had for him and some family issues that became too much, suggesting that these were some of the reasons why he began taking the drug in May 2013.

"My youngest son had just started to cry, not slept at all. I had to train, and had really good result the previous year, which had created big expectations. But I knew also that with previous income I couldn’t support my family. Although they always stood by me. I had anxiety, that all my hopes would be dashed in the end and the season would go downhill", states Dürr.

Named as the saviour of the Austrian cross-country skiing, Dürr had finished eighth in the men's skiathlon on 9th of February and was tested seven days later in Austria, where he had flown back for training. He returned to Sochi and had been scheduled to compete in the 50km men's race on Sunday, the final cross-country event.

After the announcement of a positive outcome of the doping test the athlete confessed immediately to the use of EPO, which is used to boost red blood cells that carry oxygen to the muscles, increasing stamina and endurance.

Dürr has now confessed that he was always taking a small quantity of EPO. "I also couldn’t stop using, because I need to be careful, that the levels of, for example, reticulocytes remain at the right quantity in the blood", he said, adding that the drug was given to him by a man from the former Yugoslavia.

"There was this proposal from the man from the former Yugoslavia," Dürr explains. "He had provided me with a plan for the use of the drug and I had informed myself about the levels that are not detectable, and even from the dose that was assigned I took only the half, so I can be sure that nothing would go wrong."

Dürr had also reduced once more the dose of the drug before the Olympic Games, so he was surprised when after 14 tests in this season the results were positive. "I have passed the doping control before with the double dose. And for the Sochi Olympics, I had reduced the dose, because I knew I would be controlled 100%. I was stupid, but not that stupid," he said.

He also opens up about the most difficulty thing, which he had to do is to lie to his family. Dürr says that he wanted to tell his wife, but he thought it would seem as a sign of weakness to her and he didn't want to make her a part of it.

He is also sorry about the dishonour he brought again to the sport. " I didn’t want this to happen, but I had no exit strategy. I felt like a junkie. I have always known that this is wrong, but I am just a man," said Dürr.

The athlete promised to cooperate completely with the Federal Criminal Investigation Agency and also with the NADA organisation.

In the hours and days after it was revealed that Dürr had failed a drug test, colleagues spoke of their anger and shock at the news with Austria's director for biathlon and cross country Markus Gandler saying: "We ripped our asses off for this dog and then you get deceived in this way. I'm sorry for the team that we had such a scoundrel."

Dürr has said that he believes Gandler's words were too sharp as well as those from ÖSV (Austrian Ski Association) President Peter Schröcksnadel, who Dürr wishes had cooperated more with him in the wake of the scandal.

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