Olympic champion among 12 Russian athletes guilty of doping

Updated February 03, 2019

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Russian Athletics Federation head expects more cases to follow. ─ File photo
Russian Athletics Federation head expects more cases to follow. ─ File photo

GENEVA: Evidence that Russia ran a state-backed doping scheme for several years has been used to prove new cases of cheating by track and field Olympic and world champions.

Ivan Ukhov, the 2012 Olympic high jump champion was among 12 Russian track and field athletes found guilty on Friday of taking part in “systemic doping,” the Court of Arbitration for Sport said.

Ukhov was disqualified from the 2012 London Games, while hammer thrower Tatyana Lysenko and high jumper Svetlana Shkolina also have been disqualified after winning gold at the 2013 world championships in Moscow.

“The procedures stem from the investigation conducted by Prof Richard McLaren, mandated by the World Anti-Doping Agency, in relation to allegations of systemic doping practices in Russian sport,” the court said in a statement.

CAS judges ruled the athletes “participated in and/or benefited from anabolic steroid doping” in the period before the London Olympics and through the 2013 worlds. The rulings vindicated longstanding claims by Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov who said he oversaw a state-protected program that later tainted the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Ukhov and Shkolina were given four-year bans that started on Friday. An eight-year ban was imposed on Lysenko for her second offense, backdated to run until July 2024.

Two Americans are now in line to become gold medallists years after their events.

With Ukhov disqualified, the International Olympic Committee can upgrade silver medallist Erik Kynard of the US to become the 2012 champion.

With Shkolina’s disqualification from the 2013 worlds, another American, Brigetta Barrett, is in line to get the gold medal from the IAAF. It would be Barrett’s first world title.

Two-time Olympic champion Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland could be upgraded to the 2013 world title if Lysenko is stripped of her title.

The Russian athletes, including 2014 world indoor triple jump champion Lyukman Adams, can file appeals to a separate division of CAS, which acted as the initial disciplinary hearing in these cases.

CAS prosecuted the athletes on behalf of the Russian Athletics Federation, which has been suspended by the IAAF since 2015. A WADA investigation report involving McLaren detailed extensive doping and cover-ups in Russian athletics back then.

Previously a target of McLaren, Rodchenkov then worked with the WADA investigator and detailed athletes’ steroid programs and cover-ups. This, including “washout testing” ahead of major championships he said he ran as director of the WADA-accredited laboratory in Moscow and then in Sochi.

“Russia’s pernicious, persistent, and state-led schemes to undermine Dr. Rodchenkov’s credibility are failing miserably,” his lawyers, Jim Walden and Avni Patel, said in a statement.

Friday’s verdicts came exactly one year after testimony from McLaren and Rodchenkov was partly rejected by previous CAS panels, when some Russian athletes overturned their disqualifications from the Sochi Olympics on appeal.

“Today’s CAS rulings confirm that the evidence underlying the McLaren Reports is reliable and is capable of establishing Anti-Doping Rule Violations,” said Brett Clothier, head of the IAAF’s Athletics Integrity Unit, which helped prepare the case. “It is very encouraging for us and gives us the possibility to pursue more cases.”

Russian Athletics Federation head Dmitry Shlyakhtin said other cases could follow.

“We knew about this list and I don’t think it will be the last one,” Shlyakhtin said in comments published by Russian state news agency R-Sport. “There will be more names and more verdicts, and we’ve still got the retests of Moscow laboratory samples ahead of us.”

WADA director general Olivier Niggli said the track and field verdicts confirmed the importance of retrieving analytical data from the former Moscow lab last month a process initially stalled by Russian authorities .

“It is vitally important now that the hard work continues for the good of all athletes across a range of sports,” Niggli said in a statement.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2019