The Russian Under-19 women's handball team has been stripped of the silver medal they won at last year's European championship after three of their players failed doping tests, the European Handball Federation (EHF) said on Friday.
The Russian handball federation told Reuters they were preparing an appeal against the decision.
The EHF said the three players had tested positive for Meldonium, the substance which led to Russia's multiple grand slam tennis champion Maria Sharapova being banned for 15 months after she failed a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.
"All results obtained by the players, including the silver medal at the 2017 EHF Women’s EURO 19, are disqualified, the medal from this championship is thus forfeited," the EHF said in a statement on its website (www.eurohandball.com).
"Legal proceedings have also been initiated against the Handball Federation of Russia with a decision expected in the next few months."
The EHF named the players who had failed tests as Antonina Skorobogatchenko, Maria Duvakina and Mariia Dudina. The statement added that they had been provisionally suspended as of September 2017.
Lev Voronin, the director general of the Russian handball federation, told Reuters: “We think the three athletes’ punishment is too harsh. Our legal services are now preparing all necessary documents to appeal. Regarding the decision on the federation, we just have to wait.”
The Russian Under-19 team's punishment was announced during the ongoing men's senior European championship in Croatia, for which Russia failed to qualify.
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