New Tools In The Fight Against Doping, Says RAF Chief

The president of the Russian Athletics Federation (RAF), Valentin Balakhnichev, does not describe the state of Russian sports as critical and cited many reasons for the increase in positive doping tests from Russian athletes.

Balakhnichev made these comments after Elena Churakova, the 26-year-old runner who competed for Russia in the London Olympics, was recently disqualified for a period of two years for doping. Elena is unable to take part in official athletics competitions until February 27, 2015 after he doping sample at the end of January 2013 was found to contain banned substances (metandion and testosterone). She last made the semi-finals at her Olympic Games.

The Russian Athletics Federation chief said we must be honest for our own sake and that of the sport and the recent disqualifications of Russian athletes were due to the anti-doping crackdown and the emergence of new tools to detect the very latest drugs. He added that the rigor of the anti-doping campaign is defined not only by our Federation’s new tools, but by the rules of the International Athletics Federation (IAF) and also remarked that it is also worth noting the amendments to the legislation of the Russian Federation. He also said that doping, just two years ago, was not classified as an offense under Russian law but henceforth, not only athletes can be punished, but also their attendants – particularly trainers.

Balakhnichev also said the independent anti-doping organization RUSADA, set up in 2010, is also helping to detect cases of doping in Russia and was created under the auspices of the Ministry of Sport, which has begun to allocate more money to combat doping. The RAF chief also cited an example and said there were no more than 500 doping tests annually five years ago in Russia, and said we took 3,500 samples last year and plan to take 5,000 this year.

He also said that the disqualification of Elena Churakova was not unexpected and remarked that one cannot fight doping without harsh sanctions. The president of the RAF also said we expect to see more disqualifications of Russian athletes due to the increase in doping tests and we should not be intimidated by that fact. He also said that international statistics show that 1-2 percent of samples always return a positive result and he would like to mention the new anti-doping lab, which develops new methods of diagnosis and maintains an ongoing dialogue with laboratories in other countries. The introduction of biological passports for athletes in Russia would be a key element in the fight against cheating, Balakhnichev also said and said biological passports are now widely used in cycling and have made the sport much cleaner and the Russian lab will also introduce biological passports as of January 1, 2014.

Meanwhile, Olga Kuzenkova, the 42-year-old champion in the hammer throw at the 2004 Olympic Games, received a ban of two years starting March 27, 2013 for doping and 43-year-old Svetlana Krivelyova who won bronze in the shot put, was also banned for two years, starting from April 2, 2013.

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