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I was planning on kicking off my Olympic debut with the 15-kilometer freestyle race on Monday, but the International Ski Federation had other plans.

Athletes have a mandatory blood test before competition that examines several things, among them hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. Higher hemoglobin levels equal more oxygen-carrying capacity, which equals better performance. This is why athletes train at higher altitudes, do certain types of workouts and in some cases use banned performance enhancing drugs.

Any hemoglobin level above a score of 16.9 is deemed ”unsafe.”

I scored 17.2, resulting in a five-day stand down from competition.

Unfortunately for me, the federation does not differentiate between nature and doping when it comes to the five-day suspension. They are clear to state that this is not a doping sanction and my tests are obviously clean. There is natural fluctuation during the day depending on hydration (I scored 16.2 several days earlier), as well as variance in the sample machine.

But there is still no recourse for challenging a second test.

I have high-altitude training and my parents to blame for passing on good genes and naturally high hemoglobin levels.

This means that because of a flawed system that tries (and continues to fail) to keep the sport clean, clean athletes miss out on competition while many cheaters do not.

However frustrating that is, I am now looking ahead to my final two races. I’ll be retested again. With more time at low altitude and proper hydration, I’m confident that I will be under the limit.

I have the 30K Pursuit (15K classic combined with a 15K freestyle) on Saturday, then a week off before the 50K on Feb. 27.