Alexander Zubkov

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IOC publishes details of Russia bobsled star’s doping

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — An Olympic disciplinary panel says “powerful” evidence proved that two-time bobsled gold medalist Aleksandr Zubkov took part in the Sochi Winter Games doping conspiracy.

In its full decision published on Thursday of a Nov. 24 verdict, the IOC disciplinary panel chaired by Denis Oswald detailed why it disqualified Zubkov and banned him for life from the Olympics.

The verdicts states one sample had “an abnormally high level of salt” and two scratched bottles were tampered with.

Laboratory staff added salt to clean stored urine that was swapped in for steroid-tainted samples during the Olympics.

The panel says similar evidence exists in seven more cases from Russia’s Sochi bobsled teams.

Zubkov, who carried Russia’s flag at the Sochi Opening Ceremony, has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, along with most of the other 25 Russians banned from the Olympics for life.

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MORE: List of Russia Olympic medals stripped; new Sochi medal standings

More Russian doping means Steven Holcomb’s medals will be upgraded

Steve Holcomb
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Steven Holcomb remains a winner of three Olympic medals. He will have held only one of them.

Another round of International Olympic Committee sanctions against Russian athletes who were found to have participated in doping at the 2014 Sochi Games came down Friday, headlined by bobsledder Aleksandr Zubkov being stripped of the gold medals he won in two- and four-man events.

Holcomb, who died in May, will posthumously move up one spot from bronze to silver in each of those races, once the medals are formally reallocated.

“It’s going to be weird for his family and it’s going to be weird for us,” U.S. veteran push athlete Chris Fogt, who was part of Holcomb’s four-man team in Sochi, said after the IOC decision Friday. “I’d like to think that we would be all together when it happens. And when we get those medals, we’re not going to have him there.”

A half-dozen U.S. bobsled and skeleton athletes are going to benefit from the Russian medalist disqualifications.

Skeleton racer Matt Antoine and bobsledders Holcomb, Fogt, Steven Langton and Curt Tomasevicz all left Sochi with bronzes and will be getting silvers. Skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender will be getting her first medal, with her finish upgraded from fourth to bronze. And combined, they’ll be collecting a total of $45,000 in additional bonus money from the U.S. Olympic Committee, which rewards medal performances.

MORE: A look at the Russians stripped of Olympic medals from Sochi

Now comes a delicate matter, with Holcomb’s family likely having to surrender his bronzes and await the exchange for the silvers. Holcomb’s father and one of his sisters wore the bronze medals at his memorial service in May in Lake Placid, New York.

“It’s definitely a little bittersweet that Holcomb isn’t here to see this happening,” said Langton, who was with Holcomb for the two-man medal-winning ride in Sochi and was also in the four-man sled with Holcomb, Fogt and Tomasevicz. “He worked hard and he earned those medals. It would have been very nice if he had the chance to enjoy them.”

Zubkov has been at World Cup races this season as president of the Russian bobsled federation. Unless the ruling is overturned on appeal, he won’t be at the Pyeongchang Olympics this winter, or any other Olympics. The IOC says sanctions against him – and other athletes found to have doped – include lifetime banishment from the games.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation provisionally suspended Russian skeleton athletes Aleksandr Tretiakov and Elena Nikitina from World Cup events – both won medals in Sochi that were stripped this week. It’s likely that a similar ban could be issued to the bobsledders involved in Friday’s IOC ruling, including Zubkov.

“It’s important to be able to move forward,” said USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele, also an executive with the IBSF. “No doubt about it.”

Pending the IBSF changing results as the IOC has asked, the two-man gold medal will now almost certainly go to Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann of Switzerland. The four-man gold medal would go to the Latvian sled driven by Oskars Melbardis and pushed by Arvis Vilkaste, Daumants Dreiskens and Janis Strenga.

Holcomb’s sleds would get the silver in both races. Russia would get the bronze in both, with driver Alexander Kasjanov – who had a pair of fourth-place showings in Sochi – set for the upgrade. Neither Kasjanov nor any member of his team has been sanctioned by the IOC in relation to the doping scandal.

Langton said he’s pleased that the process, which sliding athletes from countless countries have been monitoring in anticipation of the disqualifications, is finally nearing an end.

“I had faith that the people handling it would handle it appropriately,” Langton said.

Thomas Bach warns critics ahead of Russia decision

A look at the Russians stripped of Olympic medals from Sochi

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MOSCOW (AP) Fourteen Russian athletes have now been banned for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, with nine medals stripped from six athletes in four sports.

Here’s a look at the medalists who have been banned:

ALEXANDER ZUBKOV

Sport: Bobsled

2014 Olympic results: Gold in two-man, gold in four-man

Alexander Zubkov was arguably Russia’s biggest star at the Sochi Olympics, a grizzled veteran who carried the Russian flag at the opening ceremony and then won two gold medals in bobsled.

Zubkov has since become president of the Russian Bobsled Federation, putting him in charge of a new generation of athletes.

His gold medals are now in line to pass to Swiss and Latvian teams. American bobsledder Steven Holcomb, who died in May, could be upgraded to two silver medals.

MORE on Zubkov’s DQ here.

OLGA FATKULINA

Sport: Speedskating

2014 Olympic result: Silver in 500 meters

Olga Fatkulina could only manage 20th in both her events at the 2010 Olympics, but the skater from the Ural Mountains improved rapidly over the following years to win a world title in 2013, then an Olympic silver medal the following year.

When the IOC announced she had been banned, Fatkulina was in Canada for a World Cup speedskating event.

ALEXANDER TRETYAKOV

Sport: Skeleton

2014 Olympic result: Gold

Alexander Tretyakov arrived in Sochi as Russia’s first skeleton world champion and broke the track record on his way to the gold medal.

Martins Dukurs, a five-time world champion from Latvia, is now in line to inherit his and his country’s first Winter Olympic gold.

ELENA NIKITINA

Sport: Skeleton

2014 Olympic result: Bronze

Elena Nikitina narrowly reached the podium, beating American rival Katie Uhlaender by 0.04 seconds for bronze.

Nikitina, one of three Russian women in the top six who have been found guilty of doping offenses, would have been a medal contender at the Pyeongchang Olympics. She won a World Cup race only four days before her ban was announced on Wednesday.

ALEXANDER LEGKOV

Sport: Cross-country skiing

2014 Olympic results: Gold in men’s 50 kilometers, silver in 4×10-kilometer relay

A Russian podium sweep in the last race of the Sochi Games meant Alexander Legkov got his gold at the closing ceremony. A packed stadium looked on as Russian cross-country skiers received gold, silver and bronze.

Legkov was a surprise winner because he had never won an individual or Olympic world championship medal in nine years of trying.

Legkov says he competed clean, and has never failed a test. Ilya Chernousov, Russia’s bronze medalist in the 50K, could now inherit gold.

MAXIM VYLEGZHANIN

Sport: Cross-country skiing

2014 Olympic results: Silver in men’s 50 kilometers, silver in 4×10-kilometer relay, silver in team sprint

Maxim Vylegzhanin never quite made it to the top of the podium, finishing second three times. He has now lost all three medals. Sweden, France and Norway are among the countries that could be upgraded as a result.