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Nordic skiing: Olympic great Veerpalu's doping ban dismissed

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Two-time Olympic nordic skiing champion Andrus Veerpalu was left overjoyed Tuesday after his doping ban was dismissed on appeal, despite the court's lingering questions over his innocence.

"I'm glad that justice has been served but it doesn't eliminate what I've gone through the last two years," the 42-year-old Estonian athlete, who is wildly popular at home, said in a statement.

The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said it upheld Veerpalu's appeal against a 2011 three-year doping ban because of certain procedural flaws upping the risk of false positives.

It added, however, that "there are many factors in this case which tend to indicate that the athlete did in fact himself administer exogenous HGH" or human growth hormone.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) hit Veerpalu with a ban after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) test detected a higher-than-permitted level of HGH.

The court ordered the FIS to contribute 10,000 Swiss francs (8,200 euros, $10,500) towards Veerpalu's court fees.

Veerpalu refused Tuesday to divulge whether he would return to the sport, quipping: "At least not in the coming weekend."

With two golds and a silver, Veerpalu ties women's cross-country skier Kristina Smigun-Vaehi as Estonia's most successful Olympian.

He won Olympic gold and silver in Salt Lake City in 2002 and gold in Turin in 2006.

An idol in his homeland of 1.3 million people, which rejoined the global sporting fold after five decades of Soviet rule ended in 1991, Veerpalu has drawn strong public support.

A "We Believe Andrus Veerpalu" group on Facebook has more than 61,000 fans.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130326/nordic-skiing-olympic-great-veerpalus-doping-ban-dismissed