Getty Images

Ukraine track and field federation offered secret bans for doping confessions

Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) — A plan to offer amnesty to Ukrainian track and field athletes who confess to doping has led to inquiries from the IAAF and World Anti-Doping Agency.

The Ukrainian Athletics Federation wrote on its website last week that athletes on the country’s national team using performance-enhancing drugs could serve very short bans in secret if they confess. Secret bans, however, would break IAAF rules.

“We’re informed. We’re in discussions with WADA and we’re seeking clarification from the Ukrainian federation,” IAAF spokesman Chris Turner told The Associated Press last week.

Ukraine, which has been stripped of three track medals from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, has a poor record on doping and conducts few drug tests by European standards.

The UAF website referred to a month-long amnesty period running until April 3. If athletes “voluntarily confess” to their own drug use, “the information will not be made public and the athlete will not face sanctions other than quarantine (temporary suspension from competition) for the period taken for traces of banned substances to leave the body.”

It can take only a few days for some banned steroids to leave the body. A standard doping ban under WADA rules is four years, which can be halved for a voluntary confession. Keeping offenders’ names secret breaks IAAF regulations, which demand “automatic publication” unless the athlete is a child.

The UAF also suggested there could be harsher punishment for athletes who didn’t confess and are caught later, since the lack of a confession would be an “aggravating circumstance.” That appears to breach WADA rules.

WADA has also said it has contacted Ukrainian authorities for clarification.

Ukraine’s repeated doping violations have seen it classed as in IAAF “critical care” — one step away from a Russia-style ban from international competition.

There have been conflicting responses about the amnesty offer from Ukrainian officials.

UAF vice president Fidel Timchenko told the AP in a recent interview that the statements on the website — since deleted — should have specified athletes would have to inform on other dopers, not just confess their own drug use. Providing “substantial assistance” to investigations can mean a potential ban is cut by up to 75 percent or even eliminated altogether in exceptional cases, under WADA rules.

Timchenko also said he didn’t consider the plan to be an amnesty, but his views didn’t appear to match statements made by UAF president Ihor Hotsul in an interview with Russia’s TASS news agency. Hotsul compared the initiative to a weapons amnesty run by police, and his interview didn’t mention any requirement for athletes to inform on others.

In a further twist, Timchenko told the AP that athletes who only confessed their own drug use might also be let off without punishment because they hadn’t failed a doping test.

“Words aren’t enough,” Timchenko said. “The main thing is a medical document, not a confession.”

The UAF wouldn’t say how many athletes have taken up its offer and has yet to contact WADA about the cases, Timchenko said.

WADA approval would be needed for any reduced sanctions for whistleblowers, under rules designed to prevent the system from being abused. Timchenko argued names could be kept secret for a time for whistleblowers’ safety, but the IAAF said all names would have to be published.

Timchenko combines his track federation duties with a role as head of the Ukrainian anti-doping agency’s disciplinary committee. He denied his dual role was a conflict of interest and said he wouldn’t rule on sanctions for track athletes.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Russian track and field stars cleared to compete

IOC expects decisions on Russian doping cases next month

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Investigators at the International Olympic Committee expect to have “a number” of doping cases involving Russians at the Sochi Olympics resolved by the end of November, but they have no plans to dictate the eligibility of these athletes for next year’s Winter Games in PyeongChang.

The leader of an IOC delegation in charge of reviewing 28 cases involving athletes at Sochi wrote to the head of the IOC Athletes Commission this week to update the timeline of cases stemming from a report detailing a Russian doping scheme at the 2014 Olympics and beforehand.

Denis Oswald said that of the cases his committee is reviewing, priority has been given to those involving athletes looking to compete in PyeongChang. Top priority goes to six cross-country skiers whose provisional suspensions expire Oct. 31.

Oswald also said his committee would rule on these athletes’ results for Sochi, but will not determine their eligibility for PyeongChang, instead handing over evidence to their respective sports federations to decide.

The IOC also appointed a task force to look at the Russian doping scandal as a whole, the results of which could have wider repercussions on the country’s eligibility at next year’s Olympics.

In a separate letter sent to worldwide sports leaders, IOC President Thomas Bach said only that the Schmid Commission is continuing its evaluation and that “I hope that the IOC Executive Board will still be able to take a decision this year because none of us want this serious issue to overshadow” the upcoming Olympics.

The updates come amid a growing chorus of calls for a timely decision and for Russia’s ouster from PyeongChang.

The IOC commissions are operating off information from the McLaren Report, the first part of which was released in July 2016.

In explaining the timeline, Oswald wrote that because the Russian scheme involved exchanging dirty urine samples with clean ones, it took time to adopt methods to verify that samples had been tampered with — in part by finding evidence of scratch marks on collection bottles that had been opened and re-sealed.

“The task has not been easy in both establishing a methodology in an area in which there are no established protocols,” he wrote, “and then moving through the necessary scientific analysis of each individual sample in a way which would withstand legal challenge.”

MORE: USOC boss calls for immediate action on Russian doping

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Two-time Olympian becomes first woman to lead U.S. national swim team

AP
Leave a comment

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Two-time Olympian Lindsay Mintenko has been picked to lead the U.S. national swimming team. She is the first woman to hold the title.

USA Swimming made the announcement Wednesday.

Mintenko replaces Frank Busch, who retired Oct. 1 as managing director. She has been a member of the national team staff since 2006.

During her swimming career, Mintenko won gold medals as a U.S. team captain at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics 800m freestyle relay and added a silver in 2004 on the 400m freestyle relay.

USA Swimming also announced an organizational restructuring that will place all technical divisions, including the national team, under the oversight of chief operating officer Mike Unger.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Michael Phelps shares being bullied, depressed in film