Olympic figure skating medallist Carolina Kostner has had her 16-month suspension for being complicit in the doping cover-up of her former boyfriend and Olympic race walking champion Alex Schwazer extended by five months but has been cleared to compete from the beginning of 2016, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has announced.
Kostner, the 2012 world champion, could return to action as early as January 1 after settling a dispute with the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Her ban has been backdated to April 1, 2014, based on “procedural delays that are not attributable to Ms Kostner”, CAS said.
CAS added in a statement on its website that the 27-year-old, the bronze medallist in the singles at Sochi 2014, had agreed to a request from the National Anti-Doping Organisation of Italy to have her ban lengthened by a further five months.
An appeal from CONI had asked for a two-year suspension but the parties have agreed to it being increased to 21 months.
Kostner admitted that she had lied to drug testers when they arrived to test Schwazer, the Beijing 2008 50 kilometres race walking gold medallist, in July 2012, but denied any involvement with her former boyfriend’s doping.
According to lawyer Giovanni Fontana, she told inspectors that Schwazer was not home in order to "respect his privacy", before he was subsequently caught by testers in Italy.
Anti-doping prosecutors had originally called for a four-year ban which would have ruled her out of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, before settling on the agreed 16-month term.
The announcement follows Kostner herself appealing to have her ban annulled to CAS at the same time CONI launched a conflicting appeal.
After the failed doping test, Schwazer announced his retirement from the sport, admitting he had “made a mistake” and that his “career was over”.
“Ms Kostner will be eligible to compete as from the beginning of 2016,” the CAS statement confirmed.
March 2015: Kostner and CONI launch conflicting appeals to Court of Arbitration for Sport over doping ban
January 2015: I can't describe the disappointment, humiliation and pain, says Kostner after receiving ban in doping case
November 2014: Olympic figure skating medallist facing four year ban for aiding doping of former boyfriend
September 2014: Italy given approval to use WADA Anti-Doping Administration and Management System
September 2014: Kostner summoned by investigators over claims she was complicit in Olympic champion's doping