Russians set to lose Olympic, World gold medals in doping case

Sergei Kirdyapkin
Reuters
1 Comment

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian race walker stands to lose his gold medal from the 2012 London Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday rejected the selective punishments imposed by Russian authorities in six doping cases.

The Switzerland-based court ruled that the Russian anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, had wrongly imposed bans which were timed in a way that the six athletes’ results were not annulled and allowed them to keep major titles.

Russia will also lose an Olympic silver medal and two world championship gold medals as a result of the CAS decision.

Track and field’s world governing body, the IAAF, said it “will immediately proceed to the effective disqualification of results” from its competitions and ask the IOC to reallocate Olympic medals. The ruling was “in the interest of clean athletes and sport justice,” the IAAF added.

Sergei Kirdyapkin is set to be stripped of his Olympic gold medal in the 50-kilometer walk. The medal stands to go to Australia’s Jared Tallent, subject to ratification by track and field’s governing body and the International Olympic Committee.

“I’m just very, very happy to know that I am rightfully and will be officially named as the Olympic champion from London,” Tallent told The Associated Press by telephone. “It’s something that I felt on the day and ever since when I raced. This is a victory for clean athletes.”

Tallent said the Australian Olympic Committee had told him it expects the IOC to formally change the result in June. He said he has been promised his own medal ceremony, four years late.

China’s Si Tianfeng would move up to silver, with bronze for Ireland’s Rob Heffernan.

The six cases before CAS were based on the biological passport system, which tracks unusual blood values for signs of doping.

RUSADA had argued that its suspensions applied only to times when the athletes’ blood values were extreme, but the IAAF appealed, saying that the timing of the bans was “selective.”

In Kirdyapkin’s case, RUSADA had allowed him a window of four months in 2012 which meant he kept an Olympic gold medal which he would otherwise have lost.

CAS, however, ruled that all of Kirdkyapkin’s results from August 20, 2009, to Oct. 15, 2012, were now disqualified. That covers the London Olympics, which took place in July-August 2012.

Also affected by the CAS ruling is Olga Kaniskina, who stands to lose her silver medal in the 20K walk from the London Olympics. China’s Qieyang Shenjie would move up to silver.

Russia is also set to lose two gold medals from the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea – Yulia Zaripova in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and Sergei Bakulin in the 50K walk. Zaripova’s gold would go to Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi; Bakulin’s medal to fellow Russian Denis Nizhegorodov.

CAS said reallocation of medals is up to the IAAF. CAS also imposed disqualifications on walkers Valery Borchin and Vladimir Kanaikin.

Russian reaction to the decision was muted. Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the CAS ruling was “an issue from last year already, a closed issue” in comments to R-Sport.

Maxim Saushkin, a spokesman for the Russian state-run training center where five of the six walkers were based, said there would be no comments from the athletes or their representatives until they received “the relevant documents” confirming the ruling.

The acting head of RUSADA, Anna Antseliovich, told the AP that she stood by her agency’s original decision to allow the six athletes to keep certain results, but that she would respect the CAS verdict.

“We presented our experts’ opinions at CAS. We believe the decision had been imposed properly, but the CAS arbiters found that the IAAF position was stronger and more convincing,” she said. “We’ll take it into account when RUSADA takes decisions, but each case is individual.”

RUSADA was suspended from conducting any testing in November 2015 after a World Anti-Doping Agency commission accused it of covering up doping among leading Russian athletes.

Of the six athletes in the case, four have since become eligible to compete again, and some say they want to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August. However, Russia remains suspended from all international track and field, including the Olympics, after the WADA commission’s report detailed state-sponsored, systematic drug use. Doping in race-walking is a particular concern for the IAAF, after more than 30 cases in Russia in recent years.

“The Russian athletes are definitely getting what they deserved,” Tallent said, adding that “it’ll be a dark day for the sport” if Kirdyapkin is allowed to race in Rio.

“Once you’re a cheat and you’re caught, you should never be allowed to compete again. You should be banned for life,” Tallent said. “I hope that Russia is still excluded.”

Kirdyapkin and Bakulin face possible further charges over allegations that they continued to race while they were supposed to be suspended. Kaniskina also worked as director of a major training center while serving a suspension.

MORE: FINA asks newspaper for Russia swimming doping evidence

Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
Getty
0 Comments

British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
Getty
0 Comments

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!