AP

Timeline of Russia’s doping cases and cover-ups

Leave a comment

The Russian flag and national anthem have been banned from the Olympics and other major sports events for four years by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

That’s just the latest development in a five-year saga of revelations about widespread drug use by Russian athletes that has marred at least the last five Olympic Games.

Here is a timeline of the drug use, investigations and cover-ups:

Feb. 2014 — Russian President Vladimir Putin opens the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the first time Russia has hosted the Olympics since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Russian team surprises many onlookers by finishing on top of the medal table, with nearly twice as many medals as it won in 2010.

Dec. 2014 — German television channel ARD reports on allegations of corruption and systematic doping throughout Russia. Reports include accusations from former Russian Anti-Doping Agency official Vitaly Stepanov and his wife, Yulia, an 800m runner who had been banned for doping. The Stepanovs go into hiding, saying they fear for their safety.

Nov. 2015 — Citing a report by its former president Dick Pound, WADA declares Russia’s anti-doping agency noncompliant and shuts down the national drug-testing laboratory. Track and field’s governing body, the IAAF, suspends the Russian track federation in a ban that remains in place today.

May 2016 — The New York Times publishes explosive testimony by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the anti-doping laboratory in Moscow. He says he switched out dirty samples for clean ones as part of a state doping program at the 2014 Winter Olympics and other major events. A follow-up investigation helmed by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren flags hundreds of covered-up doping cases in dozens of sports. The International Olympic Committee starts retesting old samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, eventually banning dozens of athletes from Russia and other countries.

Aug. 2016 — Russia competes at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with a reduced squad after dozens of athletes fail vetting of their drug-test history by sports federations. The IOC resists calls to ban Russia entirely, but the Paralympics kick Russia out. Russia’s Olympic weightlifting team is barred entirely for bringing its sport into disrepute and the track team consists of just one athlete, Darya Klishina, who gets a waiver to compete because she’s based abroad. The Russian team is fourth in the Olympic medal count.

Aug. 2017 — Nearly two years into its track ban, Russia is allowed to send a team of 19 officially neutral athletes to the world championships in London after they’re vetted by the IAAF. When Mariya Lasitskene wins gold in women’s high jump, the Russian anthem isn’t played. Two Russian silver medalists later have their IAAF status revoked amid investigations into whether they broke anti-doping rules.

Dec. 2017 — Faced with evidence of mass Russian cheating at the 2014 Winter Olympics, the IOC officially bans Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. However, it allows 168 Russians to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” They win gold in women’s figure skating and men’s hockey. Two Russians fail drug tests during the Games.

June-July 2018 — Russia hosts the men’s soccer World Cup. Before the tournament, soccer body FIFA looks into alleged doping in Russian soccer but doesn’t issue any sanctions.

Sept. 2018 — WADA reinstates the Russian anti-doping agency against opposition from many Western athletes, who feel Russia hasn’t publicly accepted it cheated. WADA’s condition is for Russia to turn over stored data and samples from the Moscow laboratory that could implicate more athletes. Russia misses the initial December deadline but finally hands over the files in Jan. 2019.

Oct. 2018 — U.S. prosecutors allege Russian military intelligence officers hacked sports organizations, including at the 2018 Olympics, as it tried to paint athletes from other countries as cheats.

June 2019 — Former IAAF president Lamine Diack is ordered to stand trial in France over accusations of corruption, including an alleged scheme to cover up failed drug tests in return for payments from athletes. Evidence has emerged suggesting that as much as $3.5 million may have been squeezed out of Russian athletes to hush up their doping.

Sept. 2019 — With four days to go until the track world championships in Doha, Qatar, WADA says it has found signs that the lab data handed over by Russia eight months earlier may have been tampered with. Russia is given three weeks to explain, and the Russian Olympic Committee expresses concern it could be barred from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Dec. 2019 — The Russian flag and national anthem are banned from the Olympics and other major sports events for four years by WADA. Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in major events as neutrals only if they are not implicated in positive doping tests or their data was not manipulated.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Russia track and field faces expulsion threat over new doping allegations

Penny Oleksiak edges Simone Manuel, Regan Smith sizzles again in Knoxville

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Penny Oleksiak and Simone Manuel nearly duplicated their Olympic gold-medal tie. The Canadian Oleksiak edged Manuel by .03 in the 100m freestyle at a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday night.

Oleksiak clocked 53.41 seconds, coming back from .37 behind Manuel at the 50-meter mark. The two tied for the Rio Olympic title in an Olympic record 52.70 seconds four years ago. Oleksiak was the surprise, a 16-year-old who came into the Games ranked eighth in the world for the year.

Since, Manuel swept the 2017 and 2019 World titles. Oleksiak was sixth at 2017 Worlds and withdrew before the 100m free at 2019 Worlds. She ranked 21st in the world last year. Oleksiak’s time Sunday was her fastest since 2017.

Full Knoxville meet results are here. The Pro Series’ next stop is Des Moines from March 4-7.

In other events Sunday, world-record holder Regan Smith won the 200m backstroke in 2:05.94, the fastest time ever outside of a national championships or major international meet. Smith, 17, achieved the same feat on Saturday in the 100m back, where she also broke the world record at last summer’s worlds.

Madisyn Cox won a matchup of the three fastest U.S. women in the 200m individual medley in 2019. She clocked 2:09.88, beating Alex Walsh by a half-second and Melanie Margalis by .54.

It was Cox’s fastest time since she took bronze at the 2017 World Championships. She missed the 2019 Worlds after failing a 2018 drug test over what she said was a contaminated multivitamin.

MORE: Australian swim star issues plea after hometown hit by fires

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Mikaela Shiffrin among favorites eliminated early in parallel giant slalom

Leave a comment

Mikaela Shiffrin was upset in the round of 16 of the first World Cup parallel giant slalom by unheralded Frenchwoman Clara Direz, who went on to earn her first win on Sunday.

Shiffrin had the fastest qualifying time but was bounced in the second round of head-to-head racing in Sestriere by Direz. Direz, 24, came into the day with a best career finish of seventh.

Direz was 16th-fastest in qualifying, 1.02 seconds behind Shiffrin combining times from two runs. Direz edged Shiffrin by .13 in their head-to-head run. Shiffrin appeared to be at a disadvantage being put on the red course, which produced just three winners among 20 one-run matchups.

“It is fun; I think I like the parallel GS actually more than the parallel slalom, but it’s a little bit difficult,” Shiffrin said. “I think there’s still a lot of work we have to do, and FIS [the International Ski Federation] has to do to really make the race as even as it can be because for sure you can see, there’s always a faster course. But today it’s like they’re not even the same course at all. Especially in the last four, five gates on the blue course, you can even see just looking up the hill that it’s straighter than the red course.

“Today I would say it’s a day where the luck [of which course you draw randomly] really plays a role.”

Direz eventually beat Austrian Elisa Moerzinger in the final. Direz was on the blue course for three of her four one-run rounds. Full results are here.

Higher-ranked racers used to be have their choice of courses in the parallel format.

“Maybe that wasn’t fair, either, but I think there must be a way to make it something that is more even, but at the same time, yeah, I don’t really have the answers on how to do that, either,” Shiffrin said. “It’s still in its infancy, this event.”

Shiffrin has a track record of success in parallel slaloms and similar city events, winning five of her last six starts. But the parallel GS proved problematic for the world’s best in slalom.

Swiss Wendy Holdener and Slovakian Petra Vlhova were also eliminated before the quarterfinals after being second- and third-fastest in qualifying. Holdener was also on the red course. Vlhova lost in the round of 32, when skiers were taking runs on both the blue and red courses.

Sestriere marked the last weekend of technical races (slaloms/giant slaloms) until mid-February. The next three weekends feature downhills and super-Gs. Shiffrin is expected to travel to Bansko, Bulgaria, for the first set on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Shiffrin among 10 dominant Winter Olympians of 2010s decade