MOSCOW (AP) — Russian race walker Anisya Kirdyapkina, a two-time world championship medalist, has been banned for using performance-enhancing drugs, further dismantling one of the most successful doping programs in history.
Kirdyapkina was the only athlete from Russia’s nine-person Olympic walk team in 2012 never to have served a ban despite multiple investigations into organized doping involving her coach, her teammates and her gold medal-winning husband, Sergei.
The Russian track federation said Thursday that Kirdyapkina was banned for three years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after her blood data showed signs of doping. She will have to cease her coaching career and is disqualified from second-place finishes from the 2011 and 2013 world championships.
Kirdyapkina originally took the bronze in 2011 but was elevated to second when the winner, Russian teammate Olga Kaniskina, was banned for doping. Kirdyapkina’s 2011 silver is set to pass to Elisa Rigaudo of Italy, the original fourth-place finisher, while Liu Hong of China is in line to inherit the 2013 medal.
Kirdyapkina has also been disqualified from her fifth-place finish at the 2012 Olympics. Russian teammate Elena Lashmanova is still officially considered the winner of that race, though she was banned in 2014 in another doping case.
Athletes from the Russian walk team’s Saransk training center won nine Olympic and 18 world championship medals from 2004-16, but head coach Viktor Chegin has since been banned for life.
In all, more than 30 athletes associated with the team and the Saransk training center have served bans. The Russian anti-doping agency said last year it had found current national team walkers traveling to a remote part of Kyrgyzstan to train under Chegin even though they were forbidden to work with him.
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).
No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.