Former world champ Kostner banned 16 months

ROME (AP) Former figure skating world champion Carolina Kostner was banned for 16 months on Friday for her role in the doping case involving her ex-boyfriend and Olympic race walking gold medalist Alex Schwazer.

Kostner's lawyer has already said they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

''I'm certainly not happy, in fact I'm very disheartened and very disappointed,'' Kostner said. ''I'm determined to go right to the end, right to the last level of justice.''

The Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping prosecutor had originally recommended that Kostner be banned for four years and three months for helping Schwazer evade a test and other infractions.

However, following a change in the World Anti-Doping Agency's code from the beginning of 2015, the prosecutor changed his recommendation at Friday's hearing, requesting a suspension of two years and three months. But the doping court decided on a sanction of one year and four months and a fine of 1,000 euros ($1,150).

The ban starts immediately and ends May 15, 2016. It means Kostner, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist and 2012 world champion, will be eligible for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

She will miss the European championships next January as well as the next worlds, which start March 28, 2016.

The 27-year-old Kostner was taking a year off from competition.

Kostner's hearing was part of a widespread doping inquiry set off when Schwazer tested positive for EPO before the 2012 London Olympics.

Schwazer, who won the 50-kilometer walk at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, failed an out-of-competition test before arriving in London and was removed from Italy's team before competing. He admitted using the blood-boosting hormone EPO, and said he was quitting the sport.

Kostner maintains that she did not know Schwazer doped. However, published reports of Kostner's testimony to prosecutors in Bolzano showed she admitted to lying to WADA inspectors who came to her home in Germany looking for Schwazer on July 30, 2012 - days before Schwazer flew to London for the Olympics.

Ultimately, the WADA inspectors caught up with Schwazer in Italy and that's when he tested positive.

Schwazer has been banned for three and a half years, although he could have that extended by three months, taking his suspension to April 2016.

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