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Doping agency calls for 14-month ban for world’s best cross-country skier

FIS Nordic World Cup - Men's and Women's Cross Country Skiathlon

LILLEHAMMER, NORWAY - DECEMBER 05: (FRANCE OUT) Therese Johaug of Norway takes 1st place during the FIS Nordic World Cup Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Skiathlon on December 05, 2015 in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo by Vianney Thibaut/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

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OSLO, Norway (AP) — Norway’s anti-doping agency has called for a 14-month ban for cross-country star Therese Johaug after she tested positive for a steroid she said she took unknowingly.

The agency’s prosecution committee on Tuesday filed charges to the Norwegian sports federation’s disciplinary committee, which will make a ruling.

The potential ban would be retroactive to Oct. 18 and last until Dec. 18, 2017, two months before the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The Johaug suspension process could take until late January or early February before a decision is rendered, according to the Norwegian News Agency.

Johaug, last year’s World Cup overall champion, tested positive for clostebol, a steroid in a lotion given to her by the team doctor to treat sunburn on her lips during high-altitude training in Italy in August.

The prosecution committee found that Johaug took the steroid unintentionally but investigator Niels Kiaer told The Associated Press that “she could have avoided the case by checking the medicine,” which was marked with the word “doping.”

Johaug said in a statement that she does not understand the length of the suspension.

Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk, the only non-Norwegian woman to win individual cross-country gold at the Sochi Olympics, on Twitter looked forward to responses from the International Ski Federation and the World Anti-Doping Agency with a hashtag that translates to opening a bag of popcorn.

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