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Monday 05, Dec 2016

  Boycott Of Sochi Championships Sought By US Skeleton Athletes

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The New York Times has reported U.S. skeleton athletes are thinking about boycotting the World Championships in Sochi next year as protest at the Russian doping scandal.

The newspaper, referring to matters about doping control, information security, and personal safety, said memos have been distributed by athletes. In the memo, they have called for a boycott of the Skeleton and Bobsled championships in the Southern Russian resort where the 2014 Winter Olympics was held.

The New York Times reported further added that memos of the skeleton athletes showed they had support of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) that is undertaking to hold the 2024 Summer Games in Los Angeles. However, the USOC remarked it did not support “blanket boycotts”. USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said the U.S. Olympic Committee supports rights of athletes to choose when and where they compete. The spokesman added we support their right to choose not to compete and added the USOC does not, and will not, support blanket boycotts of any event.

Kyle Tress, an American skeleton racer, said it was time athletes made a stand. Tress remarked this has been passed down the line from the very highest level of sport, and now it is fallen into the lap of athletes. The American skeleton racer added there is tremendous support to skip this event, and said he thinks it is the right decision. Tress also remarked there is politics and money and sponsors involved, but this is an opportunity to come out in favor of clean sport.

U.S. Olympic skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender said the fact that nothing has been done about the Sochi scandal and the fact that we are still going to race there as it doesn’t make us feel secure, or that they’re taking the situation seriously.

The Times reported Tress and other members of his sport’s athlete advisory committee recently voted unanimously to endorse a boycott. They are likely to push through with the sanction if the competition was not moved outside of Russia.

A WADA-commissioned report this year described how Russia that lavished some $50 billion on the Games and finished top of the medals table managed to smuggle positive samples from athletes in a clandestine night-time operation out of a laboratory through a hole drilled in the wall, and then replaced with clean samples. The report further revealed that Russia operated a state-sponsored doping program for four years across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports. It was disclosed this doping program was “planned and operated” from late 2011 including the build-up to London 2012 Olympics and continued through the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics until August 2015.

Many Russian athletes have been stripped of their medals this year because of doping offences at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics but so far none from Sochi. Many anti-doping advocates believes the upcoming December 9 publication of the second investigative report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren will lead to further disciplinary action by the International Olympic Committee.

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Thursday 01, Dec 2016

  Anti-Doping Norway Proposes 14-Month Ban For Johaug

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The anti-doping agency of Norway has called for a doping ban of 14 months on cross-country star Therese Johaug.

Johaug, last year’s World Cup champion, tested positive for Clostebol, a steroid that was included in a lotion given to her by the team doctor for treating sunburn on her lips during high-altitude training in Italy in August. The Norwegian cross-country skier who has competed for the clubs Tynset IF and IL Nansen remarked she is not guilty and even asked the doctor if it had any ingredient that was on the doping list and added the doctor said no.

Team doctor Fredrik Bendiksen stepped down from his job after taking the blame for the positive test. Bendiksen said he only read the ingredients that were printed on the box and added it is his responsibility and personal mistake as a medical doctor. Bendiksen said he had given Bendiksen said he had given to Johaug and remarked she is innocent.

Anders Solheim, the head of the anti-doping agency, had earlier said the matter would be treated with the “highest priority.” Solheim added all aspects of the matter must be disclosed in the best possible way, also facts that support the athlete, so we can present it to the body’s prosecution committee for review.

It was found by the prosecution committee that the cross-country star took the steroid unintentionally and not to enhance performance but investigator Niels Kiaer said that she could have avoided the case by checking the medicine that was marked with the word “doping.”

The skater had a urine test on September 16, and the Norwegian anti-doping agency informed her of the finding on October 4. In October, Johaug was suspended pending the investigation. Kiaer further remarked the suspension of two months imposed on Johaug would count toward the ban of 14 months. This means Johaug could compete in late December next year, which will be less than two months before the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The ban she could face would be retroactive to October 18 and endure until December 18, 2017, just two months before the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Kiaer added decision of the disciplinary committee is expected early next year. The decision can be appealed to a national appeals body or the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In a statement, Johaug remarked she is pleased that the prosecution committee believed in what she had said. However, she added but she does not understand how what happened can be the basis of a 14-month ban.

The 28-year-old Johaug won seven World Championship gold medals and the overall World Cup title twice. She won gold in the 4×5 kilometer relay at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, with a bronze and silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Johaug won gold in the 4 x 5 km relay, came sixth in the 15 km pursuit at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. She won her first individual gold medal in the 30 km mass start race at the 2011 World Championships in Oslo and also went on to win the gold medal in the 4 x 5 km relay, bronze in the 7.5 km + 7.5 km double pursuit.

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Tuesday 05, Jul 2016

  Former Anti-Doping Lab Chief Accused Of Being Doping Mastermind

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A Russian investigation has revealed that Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, established a doping scheme in which he engaged in the sale of prohibited substances to athletes.

In June, the committee opened criminal proceedings against Grigory Rodchenkov on charges of abuse of authority.

In a statement, Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee, remarked Rodchenkov also promised to help athletes obtain a clean doping record. The statement further reads that Rodchenkov purchased these substances in the United States according to preliminary investigation and promised to cover the fact that banned substances had been detected in their samples when selling them to clients. The Russian Investigative Committee spokesman also said the former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory could have destroyed the samples to conceal the selling of prohibited substances and avoid criminal responsibility that would bring him a much stricter punishment, than that exists for violating World Anti-Doping Agency standards.

The investigation stated Rodchenkov deliberately decided in December 2014 to destroy 1,437 blood samples despite receiving a letter from the World Anti-Doping Agency requesting that he should keep the samples.

Markin said WADA sent a letter to him on December 9 demanding all probes in the organization, which had been taken over previous three months beginning from September 10, 2014, and those taken later on, were frozen and kept respectively till further instructions from WADA and added Grigory confirmed on December 10, 2014 assuring the samples were kept properly but issued an oral demand on December 12, 2014 to discard 1,437 probes, where 22 probes had been kept by then for less than three months and added the staff discarded the samples that very day.

It is also claimed by the investigation that Grigory Rodchenkov destroyed doping test samples of Russian athletes despite WADA forbidding it to hide his alleged trade in banned substances and avoid prosecution.

The Investigative Committee also revealed Rodchenkov’s sister Marina in 2012 was convicted for the illegal trafficking of substances that could have been used for doping. It was further added by the Investigative Committee that investigators have reasons to believe that Rodchenkov was not simply a perpetrator, but the mastermind and organizer of a number of such schemes. The spokesman for the Committee said there is a possibility that new suspects may emerge in the case of Rodchenkov.

The Investigations Committee has sent papers to the Prosecutor-General’s Office for questioning the ex-chief of the Russian anti-doping lab, who is currently living in the United States.

In Mid-May, the New York Times published an interview with Grigory Rodchenkov, who claimed that the sports authorities of Russia had allegedly prepared a special doping program for national athletes in order to win more medals at the home Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. Grigory added banned substances were taken by some Russian Olympic gold medalists. The former anti-doping official announced his readiness to offer evidence to WADA and the International Olympic Committee. He also remarked he can also share evidence about the need to re-check the doping samples from the 2014 Winter Olympics that are kept in Lausanne.

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Tuesday 21, Jun 2016

  Russia May Be Completely Banned From Sochi Olympics

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Former WADA president Dick Pound has remarked it is very much possible that Russia could be completely excluded from the Rio 2016 Olympics.

The country will face Olympic exile if the allegations of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi are proven. An investigation funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency into allegations made by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Moscow’s anti-doping lab, is presently being led by Canadian legal expert Richard McLaren. This report by McLaren will be completed by July 15, which will be two weeks before the Rio Games get underway but McLaren has already disclosed that he has been able to corroborate some of the claims made by Rodchenkov. The IAAF task force leader Rune Andersen remarked evidence had already been found by McLaren that samples of Russian athletes were being ‘filtered’ in the build-up to the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow so that only clean samples get tested.

Rodchenkov’s interview with the New York Times brought Russia to the brink of international low and humiliation. The ex-director of Moscow’s anti-doping lab detailed an alleged conspiracy by government officials to ensure success at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

WADA president Sir Craig Reedie said at a conference in London the results of the McLaren investigation may present a precedent-setting opportunity to demonstrate our collective commitment to clean sport. Reedie added we will respond thoroughly and effectively if the allegations are found to be true. The WADA president also added we are encouraged that the IAAF recognized its responsibilities and also remarked it suspended the Russian federation because of (WADA) code breaches and they have decided to continue that. Reedie added if there is clear evidence of other sports being involved then clearly you would hope that the relevant international federations might take the same view.

On Friday, a global ban on the athletics federation of Russia that was in place since November was upheld by the world governing body of athletics in a unanimous vote. Many in the Olympics fraternity are of the view that athletics is not the only sport of Russia engulfed with doping with a recent surge in doping positives in Russian swimming, weightlifting, and wrestling.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko condemned decision of the IAAF to uphold the ban on Russian athletics and said the IAAF should be disbanded. Mutko remarked the IAAF has exonerated itself from responsibility by shifting the responsibility to the All-Russia Athletics Federation.

US Senator John Thune, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has pressed the World Anti-Doping Agency to explain why it took it so long for them to initiate an investigation into systematic doping and cheating by the Russian Olympic team. Thune remarked the US Office of National Drug Control Policy has contributed more than $25 million since 2003 to WADA in the form of dues for protecting the rights of athletes to participate in drug-free sports and therefore the Senate Commerce Committee has oversight and legislative jurisdiction over sports.

In another development, IAAF President Sebastian Coe has remarked the hard-line athletics has taken on state-sponsored doping in Russia and this can act as a blueprint for other sports.

Norwegian Rune Andersen, who led the IAAF taskforce of five investigators that recommended against reinstating Russia, remarked he would soon share evidence of drug taking in other sports.

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Wednesday 21, May 2014

  Finnish Cross-Country Skier Tests Positive For EPO

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Finnish Cross-Country Skier Tests Positive For EPO

Cross-country skier Tero Similä has tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO, according to an announcement by the Finnish Ski Association.

Mika Kulmala, executive director of the Finnish Ski Association, said both “A” and “B” blood samples provided by the 34-year-old were positive. The skier remarked he has no comment on the doping charges and he will retire from skiing. Similä has not represented the Nordic country this year and was not a member of the Finnish team at the Sochi Olympics. His best international placing was 13th in Nordic combined at a World Cup race in 2005. Similä has represented Finland in the Winter Olympics in Turin and in four world championship competitions.

The four-time Finnish cross country skiing champion tested positive during a Posio test that was administered on March 9 in a non-competition setting and the sample was tested first in Finland by the Finnish Anti-Doping Agency and was later checked by overseas experts.

 

Doping in skiing has remained a controversial issue in Finland. Last year, a troika of former athletes received suspended six-month prison sentences for perjury relating to their use of performance enhancing substances. It was found by the Helsinki District Court that Janne Immonen, Jari Isometsä, and Harri Kirvesniemi lied about using prohibited substances and the manipulation of hemoglobin levels besides claiming innocence on doping in Finnish skiing. Trial duration of the three skiers ends in May 2015 and they were asked to reimburse the state for court costs amounting to 330 euros.

The former head coach of the Finnish National Ski Team, Kari-Pekka Kyrö, had remarked in the perjury trial of ex-skiers Janne Immonen, Harri Kirvesniemi and Jari Isometsä that he ran into doping in the team as early as in 1993. The ex-coach disclosed that he first came into contact with EPO (glycoprotein hormone erythropoietin) and growth hormones in the national team in November 1993 and added he as the then B-team coach noticed major changes in the hemoglobin values of skiers during squad training in Italy. Kyrö added he believes that doping was already a cause of concern in Finnish skiing before he took over the team in 1998. The former coach however denied systematically offering EPO hormone to athletes and pointed to former national team coach Pekka Vähäsöyrinki as the principal influence behind the systematic use of doping.

Former top cross-country skier Janne Immonen admitted to making use of EPO during this athletic career and lying about the matter in the court.

In the past, Cross-country skier and Olympic gold medalist Mika Myllylä had testified in court about his use of EPO hormone between the years of 1993 and 1998. This disclosure was made during the case during the late 1990s when STT (Finnish News Agency) and an STT reporter were taken to court and found guilty of libel after a story using unnamed sources was written about doping within the Finnish Ski Association. Myllyllä revealed that he told Pekka Vähäsöyrinki and Antti Leppävuori, two defendants in the case, about his use of the performance enhancing drug EPO.

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Thursday 11, Apr 2013

  Russia Is Making Anti-Doping Progress

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Russia Is Making Anti-Doping Progress

Russia, the host of World Athletics championships, has rejected claims that it is soft on doping and added the exposure of a spate of high-profile cheats was because of a step forward in testing.

Russia is keen to showcase its fight against doping as it prepares to host the World Athletics championships in August in Moscow and then the Winter Olympics in February next year in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

In recent months, a number of Russian athletes including 2004 Olympic hammer champion Olga Kuzenkova have been banned for doping rule violations that has prompted calls in some quarters for Moscow to be stripped of its right to host the championships later this year. However, the chief of the Russian athletics federation said the country had dramatically changed its approach in the fight against doping.

Balakhnichev said the national anti-doping agency RUSADA was created three years ago to keep the use of drugs in sports under control and it went to change the situation radically as the Russian sports ministry upgraded the technical equipment of Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory up to the highest modern standards and increased the level of its staff’s skills. He added the concept has already started paying off as the laboratory is not only testing but also regularly working out new methods of analysis that are currently used worldwide.

In March this year, British long jumper Jade Johnson said Moscow did not deserve to hold the championships because of its record of doping scandals. UK Athletics head coach Peter Eriksson has also called for an investigation. However, Balakhnichev refuted the claims and said the British should look after their own house and remarked the British coaches and athletes should better watch closely what’s going on closer to home and it is best for all to withdraw from issuing any labels.

The Russian athletics federation chief added a set of serious problems in world sport in general and Russian athletics in particular is exposed by the introduction of biological passports for athletes and went on to add that he believes the main reasons for doping are the high financial motivation of success in modern athletics and a severe lack of educational work with athletes. He also remarked that children’s and youth sports schools were in charge of educational work with young athletes, together with the country’s youth public organizations in Soviet times but we lost the moral standards that prevented the athletes from cheating after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The chief admitted that RUSADA dealt with doping only at elite sports level and ignore youth sports where banned substances were widespread and concluded that he believes we should keep the entire sports pyramid — from children’s sports up to the world class athletes — in our country under complete control to win the battle against doping. The chief also said the easy accessibility of banned drugs in Russia via the Internet was also to blame for the increasing number of doping cases in the country and argued that Russia should adopt laws that would allow the criminal prosecution of doping cheats.

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Thursday 15, Oct 2009

  New drug testing program to be implemented by USADA before the 2010 Olympics

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New drug testing program to be implemented by USADA before the 2010 Olympics The US Anti-doping agency recently launched a new testing program for steroid and PEDs testing called longitudinal testing.

Under this new program, athletes could not only get a suspension or a ban for testing positive. They could also be penalized if found to be possibly doping.

According to USADA’s chief science officer, an athlete’s overall chemical makeup will be examined through a series of blood tests and urine tests. This series of tests would help determine if an athlete has doped once in his career.

Last week, Bower talked about the new program at the USADA’s international anti-doping symposium in Vancouver. According to him, any US athlete has the potential to be monitored for steroids and other drugs under this so called longitudinal program.

Unlike the pilot longitudinal program where a dozen or so athletes volunteered to be monitored just before the 2008 Olympics, the present program will monitor any athletes chosen randomly. Bower refused, however, to divulge the total number of athletes who will be monitored before the Vancouver Winter Olympics in February.

The International Cycling Union began longitudinal testing last year, although USADA is thought to be the first organization to implement this program and to test athletes in this manner.

Friday 24, Oct 2008

  Bobsledder Martin Galliker tested positive for steroid

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martin-galliker-steroidsSwiss bobsledder Martin Galliker has tested positive for doping with testosterone and has immediately resigned from his team. The announcement was made by his national team federation Wednesday.

According to the Swiss bobsled federation (SBSV) Galliker’s backup sample yielded excessive levels of the anabolic steroid. The sample was taken from the 34-year-old athlete while he was training in Italy.

Galliker finished eight in the four-man event at the FIBT World Championships in St. Moritz last year. He was also part of the Swiss team that finished second in the four-man bob event at the European Championships last January held at Cesana, Italy.

It was also in Italy during the 2006 Winter Olympics that a bobsledder was one of only two athletes sent home from the Torino Games due to doping violations.

Brazilian Armando dos Santos tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone. Dos Santos was a former hammer thrower.