Maria Savinova

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Alysia Montaño finds little joy after Russian stripped of medals

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NEW YORK — U.S. 800m runner Alysia Montaño is set to earn her first two world outdoor championships medals, four and six years after she ran those races. She wasn’t in a celebratory mood about the news Saturday evening.

Russian Maria Savinova, the 2012 Olympic 800m champion, was stripped of results from 2010 to 2013 and given a four-year ban due to doping derived from biological passport evidence on Friday.

That means Savinova loses her 2011 World Championships 800m gold medal and 2013 Worlds silver medal. Montaño was fourth in both of those races and stands to be upgraded to a pair of bronze medals, pending a Savinova appeal.

Montaño has been outspoken against track and field’s issues in recent years, specifically the widespread doping problem. Savinova was first implicated more than two years ago.

So when Montaño learned the Savinova news while traveling to New York on Friday to race in the Millrose Games on Saturday, it wasn’t exactly a relief or joyous. She found out via Twitter mentions.

“I took it the same way I’ve taken every other type of news of this caliber and didn’t really think that much of it until I got to look it up myself,” Montaño said after finishing second in an indoor 500m race Saturday, her first since falling in the Olympic Trials 800m final on July 4. “I feel like for the past three years people have been tweeting me, good job, congratulations, and no news has come out.”

Montaño said the more overriding feeling was a bummer that she was in New York without her family. And it must be said she was exhausted and in need of fresh air after her race, not exactly the best environment to discuss the matter at hand.

“Here’s my moment, woo,” she said without excitement in her voice. “I should not be finding out from everybody else in Twitter mentions. There was nothing in my inbox from the federation.”

There has always been a part of Montaño that believed medals would never be redistributed. Now, she’s one step closer to receiving them.

On Friday, a post on her Facebook account read, “2 Medals from the 2011 & 2013 World Championships,” with a link to a Savinova article.

“It’s hard to say what it’s going to feel like,” to get the medals, she said. “Feelings are feelings. I only feel them when I have them.”

MORE: Russia track and field ban set for world champs

Caster Semenya set for second Olympic 800m title as Russian stripped

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Russian Maria Savinova has been stripped of her 2012 Olympic 800m title, putting South African Caster Semenya in line to upgrade from silver to gold.

Savinova was given a four-year ban due to doping derived from biological passport evidence, according to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She was found to have been doping from July 26, 2010, through Aug. 19, 2013, and all of her results in that span have been stripped.

Those results include a 2011 World Championships gold medal and a 2013 World Championships silver medal. Semenya would be upgraded to gold in 2011. American Alysia Montano is in line to be upgraded to bronze medals in 2011 and 2013, which would be the first world outdoor medals for the outspoken American. Another American Brenda Martinez, could move from 2013 World bronze to silver.

Savinova’s ban began Aug. 24, 2015, and lasts four years. Savinova, now 31, hasn’t competed internationally since 2013.

In 2015, a independent World Anti-Doping Agency panel recommended lifetime bans for Russian athletes including Savinova. In 2014, Savinova was implicated in a German TV documentary for taking a banned steroid.

In 2012, Savinova won the Olympic 800m by 1.04 seconds over Semenya, the South African scrutinized since winning the 2009 World 800m title at age 18. After that 2009 race, Savinova, who placed fifth, claimed Semenya had male genes, saying, “Just look at her,” according to reports.

Semenya has been at the center of the gender-testing controversy in track and field for seven years.

Semenya dominated en route to the 2016 Olympic 800m title, winning all 11 of her 800m events in 2016 and prevailing by 1.21 seconds in Rio in a national record.

If upgraded to gold as expected by the IAAF, Semenya will become the first woman to win multiple Olympic 800m titles.

“There was someone that finished first in the Olympics, whether she doped or not, I came second and that will never change,” Semenya said in 2015, according to South African media.

“I ran the Olympics and I won the silver medal, so I can’t celebrate anything other than my silver. Even if they crown me Olympic champion, it is just an award from them I never celebrated.

“It wouldn’t mean anything for me, it would be great for my country but for me as an athlete I cannot entertain the thought.”

MORE: Russia track and field ban to run through world champs

IOC may strip medals in Russian doping case

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The International Olympic Committee said it asked the IAAF to take action against those accused of doping in a report published Monday and may afterward strip medals.

“The IOC has asked the IAAF to initiate disciplinary procedures against all athletes, coaches and officials who have participated in the Olympic Games and are accused of doping in the report of the independent commission,” the IOC Executive Board decided, according to a press release. “With its zero-tolerance policy against doping, following the conclusion of this procedure, the IOC will take all the necessary measures and sanctions with regard to the withdrawal and reallocation of medals and as the case may be exclusion of coaches and officials from future Olympic Games.”

The executive board also provisionally suspended former IAAF president Lamine Diack from his honorary IOC membership. Diack was placed under criminal investigation last week on suspicion of taking more than $1 million in bribes to cover up Russian positive drug tests.

Monday’s report from an independent World Anti-Doping Agency panel recommended lifetime bans for Russian athletes and officials including the gold and bronze medalists from the women’s 800m at the London Olympics — Maria Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova.

The silver medalist in that race was South African Caster Semenya, she of the gender-testing controversy of 2009 and 2010.

“There was someone that finished first in the Olympics, whether she doped or not, I came second and that will never change,” Semenya said, according to South African media.

“I ran the Olympics and I won the silver medal, so I can’t celebrate anything other than my silver. Even if they crown me Olympic champion, it is just an award from them I never celebrated.

“It wouldn’t mean anything for me, it would be great for my country but for me as an athlete I cannot entertain the thought.”

The fifth-place finisher in that race was American Alysia Montaño.

“I don’t have any medals in my hands still yet, but with the findings it looks promising, and I’m very, very hopeful,” Montaño said Monday on Periscope, crossing her fingers during a nine-minute video. “Here’s to retribution and to justice being served.”