Russians banned after fake doctor story in world champion’s doping case cover-up

Danil Lysenko
Getty Images

MONACO — An elaborate deception involving a fake medical clinic in a demolished building and made-up claims about a world champion athlete’s car crash led to five senior Russian track and field officials being banned from the sport Wednesday.

Disciplinary rulings found former Russian track and field president Dmitry Shlyakhtin and his colleagues obstructed an anti-doping investigation into high jumper Danil Lysenko with forged documents and fake claims.

Shlyakhtin, who left the federation soon after charges were filed in 2019, was banned for four years.

“It appears that most if not all of the senior management of RusAF were involved in this major fraud. That is quite shocking,” the verdict in Shlyakhtin and board member Artur Karamyan’s case reads, using an abbreviation for the federation.

The panel added that it viewed the maximum four-year sanction allowed by the rules as “grossly inadequate”.

In 2018, Lysenko was one of Russia’s brightest young talents, granted coveted “neutral” status to compete at major international events despite RusAF being suspended for earlier doping offenses. However, he faced a ban after being charged with missing a drug test and twice failing to provide details of his whereabouts so he could be reached for no-notice testing.

Shlyakhtin and other officials helped Lysenko cook up an explanation that a bout of appendicitis had landed him in the nonexistent “SD Clinic” in Moscow and left him unable to upload the required information about his whereabouts, the Athletics Integrity Unit’s later investigation found.

Shlyakhtin urged Lysenko to undergo a battery of medical tests later, used to create realistic-looking fake records presented to investigators at the AIU. Lysenko and Karamyan drove together to view the address given for the “SD Clinic”, where a real clinic had once operated, but the building had been demolished, the investigation found.

Another RusAF official, Elena Orlova, compiled documents stating Lysenko had been involved in a June 2018 car crash to support a claim he was too distracted to let anti-doping authorities know of his whereabouts by the deadline of June 30, the AIU found. Investigators concluded the accident actually happened more than two weeks after the deadline had passed.

In a 15-month investigation, the AIU spotted contradictions in the evidence from Russia, including a change in the location where Lysenko was supposedly treated, and then uncovered the deception, following a trail of e-mails and WhatsApp messages implicating the five officials.

Executive director Alexander Parkin, who the AIU said admitted to knowing of the forgery plans, was banned for four years. Four-year sanctions were also handed to Orlova and the federation’s anti-doping coordinator Elena Ikonnikova.

Orlova and Ikonnikova will serve those bans alongside longer sanctions imposed earlier of six and eight years respectively. That’s because they didn’t comply with a tribunal’s orders to disclose evidence, opening up the possibility of longer sanctions than the standard four years in doping-related cases.

None of the five officials still works at RusAF.

Lysenko, a world indoor champion and silver medalist at the 2017 World Championships, and his coach Evgeny Zagorulko were also charged in 2019 and the case against them is ongoing. The federation, under new leadership, admitted wrongdoing in the case last year.

The case brought Russia, already suspended from international track and field over doping, to the brink of expulsion from governing body World Athletics when the charges were filed shortly after the 2019 World Championships. It led to a lengthy freeze in talks aimed at reforming the sport in Russia to allow the federation to be reinstated before the Olympics in Tokyo.

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Aksel Lund Svindal, Olympic Alpine champ, has testicular cancer, ‘prognosis good’

Aksel Lund Svindal

Aksel Lund Svindal, a retired Olympic Alpine skiing champion from Norway, said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer and the prognosis “looked very good.”

“Tests, scans and surgery all happened very quickly,” Svindal, 39, wrote on social media. “And already after the first week I knew the prognoses looked very good. All thanks to that first decision to go see a doctor as soon as I suspected something was off.”

Svindal retired in 2019 after winning the Olympic super-G in 2010 and downhill in 2018. He also won five world titles among the downhill, combined and giant slalom and two World Cup overall titles.

Svindal said he felt a change in his body that prompted him to see a doctor.

“The last few weeks have been different,” he wrote. “But I’m able to say weeks and not months because of great medical help, a little luck and a good decision.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it was anything at all. … [I] was quickly transferred to the hospital where they confirmed what the doctor suspected. Testicle cancer.”

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup

The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France vs. Mali Group B
4 a.m. Australia vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada vs. Japan Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final