OSLO, Norway — Speaking through her tears, cross-country skier Therese Johaug denied knowingly taking a banned performance-enhancing drug.
Johaug, a three-time Olympic cross-country medalist from Norway, has tested positive for the steroid clostebol. The Norwegian ski federation said Thursday the drug came from sun lotion given to her by team doctor Fredrik Bendiksen.
“I am not guilty. I asked the doctor and he said it was not on the doping list,” Johaug said at a news conference, wiping tears away with her hands. “And he said no.”
Bendiksen, who was also at the news conference, stepped down from his job after taking the blame for the positive test.
“It is my personal mistake as a medical doctor,” said Bendiksen, who said he only read the ingredients that were printed on the box. “It is my responsibility.”
Bendiksen said he had given Johaug the cream Trofodermin to treat sun burns on her lips after altitude training with the Norwegian cross-country team in Italy in late August.
“She has told the whole truth,” Bendiksen said. “I take responsibility for Therese using the balm that has the illegal drug clostebol. … In my opinion, she is innocent.”
Johaug had a urine test on Sept. 16, and the Norwegian anti-doping agency informed her of the finding on Oct. 4.
Torbjorn Skogstad, the head of Norway’s cross-country committee, said a meeting has been called to discuss “any immediate measures.”
Norwegian ski federation secretary general Stein Opsal said it was “too early to say” if she would be suspended, saying they were awaiting a decision from Anti-Doping Norway.
Anders Solheim, the head of the anti-doping agency, said the matter would be treated with the “highest priority.”
“All aspects of the matter must be disclosed in the best possible way, also facts that support the athlete, so we can present it to (the body’s) prosecution committee for review,” Solheim said.
Johaug, a seven-time world champion, won gold in the 4×5-kilometer relay at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. She took silver and bronze medals at the 2014 Games in Sochi.