MIDWAY, Utah — Germany edged Norway for the gold medal in the women's 20-kilometer cross-country relay Thursday, shortly after Russian superstar Larissa Lazutina was disqualified for having high levels of hemoglobin.
Norway won the silver, and Switzerland took bronze.
Russia planned to protest the race, team leader Gennady Ramensky said.
The disqualification of Lazutina, trying for a record-tying 10th medal, knocked four-time defending champion Russia out of the event. The Ukrainian team did not start because Valentina Shevchenko also failed the blood test.
Ukrainian officials declined to comment.
The Russians--Lazutina, Olga Danilova, Nina Gavriljuk and Julija Tchepalova--have dominated cross-country events at Soldier Hollow. They have a combined six medals--two gold, three silver and one bronze--and were the heavy favorites to win the relay.
Without them, Norway and Germany battled for the gold.
The Norwegians led after the second and third legs, but Evi Sachenbacher quickly passed Anita Moen on an uphill at the 1.7-kilometer mark.
Moen--using countryman and four-time biathlon gold medalist Ole Einar Bjoerndalen's skis--retook the lead just before the skiers entered the stadium and looked as if she might pull away. But Sachenbacher, who won the silver medal in the 1.5-kilometer sprint Tuesday, cruised past the leader with 100 meters to go.
Moen realized she was beaten and coasted across the finish line in second.
The Germans--Manuela Henkel, Viola Bauer, Claudia Kuenzel and Sachenbacher--covered the course in 49 minutes 30.6 seconds, 1.3 seconds faster than Norway.
It was the fourth consecutive silver medal for Norway in the event. Russia had won seven of the first 12 gold medals since the relay made its Olympic debut in 1956.
Italy, third in the last three Olympic relays, was sixth.