Irina Starykh, a leading biathlon medal prospect, will miss the Sochi Games after failing a doping test, the Russian biathlon federation confirmed yesterday.

In a letter to the Russian federation, Starykh said she received notification of a positive A sample from the International Biathlon Union and that she asked to leave the team camp.

"I have got myself into a difficult situation and think it is necessary to inform about my decision to leave the team for an unspecified period," wrote Starykh, who is sixth in the overall World Cup standings. "This news was very surprising for me. I am sincerely sorry that this piece of news has been associated with my name."

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Starykh, 26, was expected to challenge for medals, especially in the sprint discipline. The Russian federation did not say who would replace Starykh.