With Olympics in 3 months, WADA gets Russian doping files

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The World Anti-Doping Agency has obtained files from a Moscow lab that contain data from a period when investigators say Russia ran a state-sponsored system designed to help Olympic athletes evade positive tests.

The data is considered a key piece of evidence as the International Olympic Committee tries to determine the fate of Russian athletes for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Later this month, the WADA board will decide whether to reinstate the suspended Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which would be a key step toward Russia’s overall acceptance to the upcoming Olympics.

As a condition of reinstatement, WADA is requiring “responsible authorities” in Russia to publicly accept outcomes of the investigation conducted by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, who outlined evidence of the state-sponsored system. They also are requiring the Russian government to provide access to stored urine samples and electronic data in the Moscow laboratory.

A person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that the newly gleaned data did not come from the Russian government. The person did not want to be identified because details of the investigation were not supposed to be made public.

In announcing the acquisition of the data, WADA chairman Craig Reedie said it “serves to reinforce our requirement of Russian authorities that they too publicly accept the outcomes.”

Early next month, the executive board of the IOC will meet to discuss Russia’s future.

Two commissions — one looking at individual cases and one looking at the Russian doping program as a whole — are nearing the end of their work.

Already, six Russians have been penalized for violations at the Sochi Games and barred from next year’s Olympics.

Anti-doping leaders are calling for a full ban of the Russian Olympic team, with allowances made for Russian athletes who can prove they’re clean to compete as neutral athletes.

The McLaren Report detailed a scheme in which the Moscow lab would report all positive tests to Russia’s Ministry of Sport, and the ministry would replay with a “save” or “quarantine” order. If a report said “save,” the lab would report the sample as negative in WADA’s database.

WADA said that “by cross-referencing this new intelligence with the McLaren Investigations’ findings and what was reported into (the database), WADA’s evidence base is reinforced.”

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MORE: Figure skating gold medalist cleared in Russia doping investigation

South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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