Craig Reedie
AP

WADA to consider investigating more Russian sports

Leave a comment

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency is prepared to open new inquiries into suspected systematic doping in Russian sports and other countries.

Four months after a WADA-commissioned investigation alleged a Russian doping conspiracy in track and field, WADA president Craig Reedie said Monday he would “reanalyze” the report to see if new cases were needed.

“I will determine whether or not there is sufficient information to propose further investigations,” Reedie told a conference of anti-doping officials from across the world.

Reedie reacted to criticism from the WADA athletes’ commission last week, which said comments in the “incriminating” report justified investigating other sports in Russia, and track and field programs in several other countries.

The promise helped keep Russia as the focus of doping issues one week after Maria Sharapova announced her positive test for meldonium. The blood-flow enhancing medication has triggered 99 positive cases, many from former Soviet Union countries, since joining the WADA-managed banned list on Jan. 1.

Under pressure from Russia to justify the science behind its decision, WADA director general David Howman defended the agency’s working methods established for more than a decade.

“We are not going to start creating a new process because of one substance,” Howman said on the sidelines of the conference. “There are provisions that say, if (a substance) is on the list, there is no query as to why it is on the list.”

Five months before the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Russia’s track and field team remains barred from competition as a result of the WADA-commissioned inquiry. The IAAF aims to decide in May if Russia should be allowed back in.

By then, other Olympic sports in Russia could be under closer scrutiny.

Reedie said Monday that he spoke with WADA athletes’ spokeswoman Beckie Scott and promised to “re-engage” with the inquiry team led by Dick Pound, plus sports federations and anti-doping officials.

Scott had suggested in an open letter that WADA’s response to the Pound report in November was unsatisfactory.

“There are quite a number of mentions of other sports,” Howman acknowledged. “We know they collected a lot of information and we need to ask them whether any of it was substantial enough” to open an inquiry.

Finding money for more lengthy investigations could be a factor.

Reedie noted that the Pound investigation had cost $1.5 million, and WADA had an annual operating budget of $26 million. He said he could propose new inquiries, and paying for them, with the WADA executive board. It next meets on May 11 in Montreal.

The Sharapova case was not discussed in detail at the opening sessions of a three-day meeting of national anti-doping agencies, so as not to prejudice her ongoing disciplinary case by tennis authorities and possible appeals, Howman said.

Still, he appeared to dismiss one line of Sharapova’s defense that she and her entourage were unaware of warnings that meldonium, which she used since 2006, was about to be prohibited for use without a medical exemption.

“Every year you should have on your calendar, 1st of October, let’s look at the (banned) list to see what’s happening,” Howman said. “It’s not new to athletes, it’s not new to administrators, it’s not new to athlete advisers. This has been going on now for 13, 14 years.”

Asked about reports in Russia quoting sports minister Vitaly Mutko‘s request to WADA to provide its scientific evidence relating to meldonium, Howman said no special favors would be given.

“We will show them the minutes of the meeting which are public, and the way in which these things were discussed,” the WADA official said.

MORE: WADA: 99 positive meldonium tests; list of notable athletes

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!