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Former Olympic champion Mantyranta dies at 76

AP - Sports

HELSINKI (AP) -- Eero Mantyranta, a three-time Olympic cross-country skiing champion from Finland who later tested positive for doping in the 1970s, died Monday. He was 76.

Mantyranta died in a hospital in the city Oulu in western Finland, Finnish Skiing Association spokeswoman Anna-Mari Vuollet said.

Vuollet said Mantyranta had been ill for a long time, but couldn't specify the exact cause of death.

Mantyranta helped Finland win the men's 10-kilometer relay at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics and won the 15-kilomter and 30-kilometer individual races at the 1964 Innsbruck Games. He also earned two Olympic silver medals and two bronzes, as well as two world championship gold medals in Oslo in 1966 and Zakopane in 1962.

The performances made him one of the biggest stars in Finnish skiing.

Finnish Ski Association executive director Mika Kulmala said Mantyranta will be remembered as a hard worker who had ''famous Finnish guts.''

Kulmala said Mantyranta remained a popular figure despite testing positive for amphetamines in 1972 because doping wasn't seen as a big deal at the time. Later, Mantyranta admitted to taking hormones to advance his skiing, although they weren't illegal at the time.

Kulmala said Mantyranta is survived by his wife Raakel Mantyranta and three children.

Funeral arrangements weren't immediately clear.

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