By Nick Butler

Junior national champion Oksana Nagalati has become the latest Russian Winter athlete to be banned ahead of Sochi 2014 ©AFP/Getty ImagesJanuary 10 - National junior figure skating champion Oksana Nagalati has become the latest Russian athlete to be banned for doping ahead of the country hosting the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month. 

After winning the national junior pairs title last February before taking a bronze medal at September's International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix in Slovakia with partner Maxim Bobrov, the 17-year-old was considered a major hope for the future.

But the teenager tested positive in the same competition in Slovakia for the masking agent furosemide and has received a back-dated one year ban which will put her out of action until September 13.

Nagalati claimed to have taken "one pill of furosemide following the advice of her mother's family doctor" for a health problem, and had not realised that it was a banned substance, according to the ISU.

Although they deemed this explanation credible and consequently did not hand out the standard two-year ban for doping, they insisted a sanction of some sort was needed due to the skater's "negligence".

This follows an announcement placed on the website of the Russian Anti Doping Agency (RADA), dated with tomorrow's date of January 11, that BMX rider Hakuy Svetlana has been handed a six month ban, backdated from last July, for violation of anti-doping rules.

Oksana Nagalati follows other Russian Winter athletes, including Turin 2006 Olympic biathlon champion Albina Akhatova, in being banned for doping in recent years ©AFP/Getty ImagesOksana Nagalati follows other Russian Winter athletes, including Turin 2006 Olympic biathlon champion Albina Akhatova, in being banned for doping in recent years ©AFP/Getty Images

Russia has endured a terrible year regarding doping offences with 5,000 metre runner Olga Golovkina becoming in October the 32nd Russian athlete to be banned for a positive test in 2013 alone.

In what came across as an attempt to bury bad news, it was also announced on Christmas Eve that a spate of weightlifters and cyclists had also been banned for failed tests. 

Russia has received another blow to its creditability ahead of Sochi 2014 with the news national freestyle skiing champion Anna Orlovskaya has received a two-year suspension for a doping violation.

With the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi now less than one month away, another failed test in a Winter sport is a particular concern.

Other cases involving Russian biathletes in recent years have included Turin 2006 gold medallist Albina Akhatova and former world champions Dmitri Yaroshenko and Ekaterina Lourieva.

The anti-doping programme at Sochi 2014 will be the toughest for any Olympics with 57 per cent more tests due to be conducted than Vancouver 2010, with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach also warning "a positive drugs test would overshadow the achievement of any team at Sochi 2014."

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