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Wednesday 16, Aug 2017

  IOC Orders To Return Medals Defied By Russian Athletes

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Russian three-time Olympic silver medalist Tatyana Firova has decided not to return her silver medals in defiance to orders issued by the International Olympic Committee.

The 33-year-old 400m runner, who failed a re-examined drugs test from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, argued that “bureaucrats” must share responsibility for the doping scandal. Firova said we sportsmen are performers and we follow the rules that are given to us by the system. The three-time Olympic silver medalist added a normal person can take banned substances if they want to but the athletes are not allowed to.

Firova, who also has to surrender her 4×400-meter relay silver medal from London after the samples of a teammate were retested, remarked she was sentimentally attached to her Olympic hardware.

Meanwhile, the IOC has commented it had already received a number of medals and was in contact with the relevant Olympic committees about the issue.

Former decathlete Alexander Pogorelov, who was stripped of his Olympic diploma for a fourth-place finish in Beijing after Turinabol was found in his sample, said he does not know whether he had lost the medal or not but he has not seen it in a while. Pogorelov, who now heads the sports committee of the city of Bryansk, commented he probably wouldn’t give it back even if he did find it because he thinks he earned it honestly.

In a recent report, an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) task force monitoring reforms at the Russian federation said it had yet to demonstrate that it has established a strong anti-doping culture within its sport, or that it has created an open environment that encourages whistleblowing. Russia has never acknowledged state support for doping though it has pledged to cooperate with global sports bodies over its anti-doping program. A big majority of Russian officials, athletes, and coaches do not still believe that there was wrongdoing and are of the view that their country is being unfairly targeted.

Some athletes commented that they had not returned the medals as the Russian federation had not simply asked for it. Russian athletics federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin denied these claims and said they are lying about the fact they were not notified. Shlyakhtin insisted it had contacted them by phone, e-mail, and mail.

The issue of medals not being promptly returned was downplayed by Russian Sports minister Pavel Kolobkov. The Sports minister said many athletes do not give back their medals, not only athletes in Russia.

Organizers of other sports events have also faced obstacles in reclaiming prize money or medals from Russian dopers. The London Marathon has been trying to reclaim money from Liliya Shobukhova, who won the 2010 title and was runner-up in 2011 before she was banned for doping. Shobukhova was sued in Britain and organizers of the marathon are now waiting for a hearing in Russia to have the judgment applied there. The race’s chief executive Nick Bitel said we will spend whatever money it takes to pursue her and get the money back, even if it makes no commercial sense.

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Friday 04, Aug 2017

  Russian Athletics Chief Apologizes For Doping Scandal

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Dmitry Shlyakhtin, head of the Russian athletics federation (RusAF), has issued an apology in an address to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Congress meeting ahead of the World Championships.

Shlyakhtin rendered the public apology for the Russian doping scandal that has seen Russia barred from international track and field competition. The RusAF head remarked the situation with athletics is very difficult indeed and outlined that the Russian athletics federation had been totally overhauled since he took charge in early 2016 and that “radical changes” have been introduced. Shlyakhtin added the initial period was not sufficient to understand the scale of the crisis happening in Russia and added he had delved into this situation and understand that the decision by the IAAF and Council to ban Russia was indeed the right one.

The head of the Russian athletics federation said he would like to apologize to all athletes who have had gold and silver medals snatched from them at competitions. Shlyakhtin also said he wants to assure everyone that his new team will fight doping and what happened will never happen again.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe termed the apology as “a very candid response”. Coe remarked the whole Congress was pleased to recognize that the Russian federation recognized themselves that they have been through some pretty torrid times that they are doing everything they possibly can to make sure that the federation started doing the hard yards of changing the culture around coaching systems and endemic systems that have served, very badly, the athletes. The IAAF president also commented that progress is clearly being made.

Rune Andersen, independent chairman of the IAAF Taskforce looking into doping in Russia, hailed the apology. Andersen remarked it is fair to say that the path has not always been completely smooth and added there have been some bumps along the way, usually in the form of political statements or interventions that have not been entirely helpful. The IAAF Taskforce chairman said he would want to pay tribute to Dmitry Shlyakhtin and the colleagues he brought with him when he was elected as RusAF president in early 2016.

      Andersen added Dmitry clearly understands the need to change the doping culture that clearly existed in Russian athletics in the past and also remarked he understands the harm that culture has cost clean athletes everywhere as the apology he just extended to those cheated out of medals demonstrates. Andersen also commented that it is a measure of the man and an important step on the road to rehabilitation of Russian athletics that he is willing to acknowledge that offence publicly. Andersen insisted that the timeline of return of Russia to international action in November was possible.

Last year, Russia was accused of widespread state-sponsored doping. The athletics team of Russia was barred from last summer’s Rio Olympics and will also miss the IAAF World Championships. The world governing body of athletics however permitted some Russian athletes to compete as neutrals after they had successfully met the exceptional eligibility criteria, essentially demonstrating that they have come through transparent anti-doping testing.

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Monday 08, Aug 2016

  Russia Suspended From Rio 2016 Paralympics

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The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has banned the entire Russian contingent from the Rio 2016 Paralympics because of the widespread doping culture that it says has polluted sport in the country.

The decision to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee was announced by the IPC in Rio and IPC President Philip Craven said that Paralympians of Russia were part of a broken system that stems from the Russian government. It was immediately announced by Russia it would appeal against the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. This decision of the International Paralympic Committee followed the recent publication of the McLaren report that implicated Para-athletes of Russia in the widespread doping and cover-ups that led to the selective banning of many competitors from the Olympics.

Craven remarked the anti-doping system in Russia is broken, corrupted, and entirely compromised. The IPC President also commented the Russian Paralympic Committee is unable to ensure compliance with and enforcement of the IPC anti-doping code and the world anti-doping code within their own national jurisdiction and they cannot fulfill its fundamental obligation as an IPC member and therefore the Russian Paralympic Committee is suspended with immediate effect. Craven went on to say the Russian government has catastrophically failed its Para-athletes and added their ‘medals over morals’ mentality disgusts him. The IPC Chief also said the complete corruption of the anti-doping system is contrary to the rules and strikes at the very heart of the spirit of Paralympic sport. Craven also commented their thirst for glory at all costs has severely damaged the integrity and image of all sport, and has certainly resulted in a devastating outcome for the Russian Paralympic Committee and Para-athletes.

The IPC President remarked he had “deep sympathy” for the competitors who will miss the Paralympics but this decision was taken in the best interests of the Paralympic movement. Last month, the IPC had remarked NPC Russia appears unable or unwilling to ensure compliance with and the enforcement of the IPC’s Anti-Doping Code within its own national jurisdiction in view of the culture endemic within Russian sport at the very highest levels.

Lynne Anderson, the chief executive of the Australian Paralympic Committee, remarked the International Paralympic Committee did not have any alternative and it was a “sad day for everybody”. Previously, the Australian committee had called for Russia to be excluded from the Rio Paralympics. Lynne added the ruling is based on inability of Russia to ensure that they can commit to a clean doping situation, so from that point of view the answer was pretty straightforward.

Russian Para-athletes are some of the most successful in the world and topped the medal table in Sochi and came second after China at London 2012. The exclusion of the entire Russian contingent from the Rio 2016 Paralympics is another strong blow to the reputation of Russia as a global sporting powerhouse after dozens of Russian sportspeople were barred from Olympic competition for doping offences. The world governing body of athletics had banned the Russian track and field athletes.

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Wednesday 27, Jul 2016

  Russian Pole Vaulter Hits Out At Country’s State-Sponsored Doping

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Yelena Isinbayeva, regarded by many as the greatest female pole-vaulter of all time, has slammed Russian officials for their failure to defend her in the doping ban row.

The 34-year-old was barred from the Rio Olympics despite the fact that there was never any suggestion that she was part of the Russian doping culture that has shamed the country. The two-time Olympic gold winner and three-time world champion blasted Moscow officials for failing to defend her. Yelena said the defense offered by Russian officials was very weak and she would term it ‘zero defense’. The current world record holder said she is sad and ready to burst in tears in front of this lawlessness and outrage.

It was further remarked by the Monaco-based pole-vaulter that she and her coach Evgeny Trofimov had revolutionized the sport but she was now receiving a slap in the face despite never having resorted to doping. The pole-vaulter added we were ten years ahead of our time and also commented pole jumping became sport number one in world athletics with her world records and victories. Her coach said Yelena would make an appeal in the Strasburg Human Rights Court, the European Court of Human Rights, despite the fact that even a positive verdict would come too late to compete in the Rio Olympics. Trofimov also said the decision of International Olympic Committee is lawless for her and for the team.

Yelena lamented in an emotional outburst that Rio is over and remarked there is no chance for her to stand up on the highest step at the Olympics. The Russian pole vaulter also said no Russian anthem will be played in her honor and she would not be able to cheer her fans by flying over the bar. Yelena also commented she was very upset as this is unfair.

Previously, Isinbayeva had criticized the International Association of Athletics Federations and asked for the entire organization to be disbanded. The pole vaulter remarked the fact that they threw this out shows their weakness and their helplessness and added the presumption of innocence before guilt does not exist and they cannot show who is clean in Russia and who is not and they just show their ineffectiveness. Isinbayeva remarked she would disband the whole federation and would change those running the organization yet again and also commented they are ineffective and are breaking up world athletics. The two-time Olympic gold winner said everyone understands clearly that without the Russians at the Games, only half the TV audience is going to watch the Olympics, and this is bad for the sponsors and also remarked it is also bad for the public who want to watch us compete.

Russian gold winning figure skater Evgeni Plushenko extended support for Yelena and remarked the federal leadership of Russia should back her claim to take part in the Olympics. Evgeni also commented that Yelena was a symbol of faith and overcoming yourself for many people, an idol for millions of fans around the world, because the Olympic movement is not just about competition and also said it is a mission that we are carrying throughout our whole lives.

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Monday 14, Dec 2015

  Criteria For Removal Of Russia Doping Ban Revealed By IAAF

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IAAF President Lord Sebastian Coe has unveiled the criteria that Russia must meet for the present doping ban to be lifted. The International Association of Athletics Federations chief said a complete change in culture must be displayed.

Coe remarked that a holistic change in the doping culture of Russia is required for the sanction to be lifted and added there was no predetermined timescale for the ban. The IAAF head said the conditions we have announced leave no room for doubt and also added that Russia must demonstrate verifiable change across a range of criteria and satisfy our task force that those criteria will be met permanently. Lord Coe also remarked that it is up to Russia to implement verifiable change both in anti-doping practice and culture.

Russian athletes are presently a possible exclusion from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games following an investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency last month. The world governing body of athletics agreed and handed down sanction to Russia after it was recommended by WADA that athletes of the country from international competition for an indiscriminate amount of time. The All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) decided not to appeal the decision that meant it faces a race against time to prove itself before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next summer.

The IAAF has told All-Russia Athletics Federation that Russia must demonstrate that it meets the regulations of WADA and IAAF, with specific criteria set out. These regulations include resolving current disciplinary cases and introducing a new code of ethics and stepping away from those who were previously found guilty of doping. It was also stipulated by the world governing body of athletics that all officials and directors who are involved with IAAF must demonstrate that they have had no previous involvement with doping. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency is also asked to prove that it can work independently without outside influence.

In another development, an advisor to the Russian Sports Minister said UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) will be helping the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to carry out its work. Natalia Zheleznova said the World Anti-Doping Agency has recommended UK Anti-Doping to Russian Anti-Doping Agency and they are expected to plan tests together attracting international companies which take doping tests.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko remarked that he is fully determined to fight the use of doping products by athletes of the country. Mutko added Russia does not need some deceitful athlete or coach to fool everyone. If needed, we will clean up this federation completely. The sports minister added it has requested IAAF to allow Russian track and field athletes to participate in the upcoming competitions under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) instead of the Russian flag for circumventing the ban imposed by the IAAF.

ARAF General Secretary Mikhail Butov said the IAAF overreacted in this situation and also commented that the decision won’t do any good to international track and field athletics.

The first trip of IAAF task force to Russia to begin its overview is scheduled for January 2016.

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Monday 01, Jul 2013

  Winning Without Doping Was Not Possible, Says Armstrong

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Winning Without Doping Was Not Possible, Says Armstrong

In an interview with Le Monde, Lance Armstrong brought the dirty past of the Tour de France by saying he could not have won the Tour seven times without doping.

The disgraced cyclist said he still considers himself the record-holder for Tour victories, even though all seven of his titles were stripped from him last year for doping. Armstrong also added that his life has been ruined by the investigation of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that exposed as lies his years of denials that he and his teammates doped.

The American rider claimed that it was “impossible” to win the Tour without doping when he was racing and also said he was not the first athlete to dope and there would always be a doping culture but cycling was being made a “scapegoat” for the practice in all sport. When asked if it was possible to perform without doping, Le Monde quoted Armstrong as saying “”That depends on which races you wanted to win. The Tour de France? No. Impossible to win without doping. Because the Tour is a test of endurance where oxygen is decisive.”

Armstrong’s comments were sharply criticized by American rider Tejay van Garderen of the BMC team who said if he’s saying things like he doesn’t think that it’s possible to win the Tour clean then he should be quiet – because it is possible while UCI President Pat McQuaid called the timing of the comments as very sad. In a statement, McQuaid said I can tell him categorically that he is wrong and his comments do absolutely nothing to help cycling and went on to add that the culture within cycling has changed since the Armstrong era and it is now possible to race and win clean. The UCI President also remarked that riders and teams owners have been forthright in saying that it is possible to win clean – and I agree with them.

The American former professional road racing cyclist’s comments were also criticized by Australia’s Cadel Evans who rubbished the claims of Armstrong by saying he had shown it was possible to triumph without cheating by winning the Tour in 2011. The Australian BMC rider said he sometimes reads in the press what Armstrong says and he respects him as a human being but really I just focus on doing my own job as best I can and fortunately we are supported by a great group of people.

These comments were enough for Lance Armstrong to retract from his statement and say that his claims only applied to the period in which he dominated the sport. Last year, Armstrong was exposed as a serial drug cheat in a devastating US Anti-Doping Agency report that plunged cycling into crisis about the extent of performance enhancing drugs in the peloton. Armstrong, who won the Tour a record seven times between 1999 and 2005, was stripped of his Tour titles and banned from the sport for life. He later admitted in a television interview that he used a cocktail of drugs, including the blood booster EPO, testosterone, and blood transfusions, to win the Tour.

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Thursday 07, Mar 2013

  Dutch Ex-Cyclist Admits Doping

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Dutch Ex-Cyclist Admits Doping

A former Dutch professional cyclist who once edged Lance Armstrong to win the Amstel Gold Race had admitted to using performance enhancing drugs.

Michael Boogerd, the spring classic specialist, admitted to making the use of performance enhancing drugs for a decade during his career. Boogerd revealed he used EPO and cortisone besides using blood transfusions in the last period of his career and added that he doped from 1997 to 2007, a period that covered almost his entire professional career.

Boggerd rendered an apology for keeping the doping culture alive and said he is sorry that he cannot accept that doping was wrong. The cyclist admitted to using the Austrian blood lab, Humanplasma, for transfusions and said he flew to Vienna for blood transfusions and stored his own blood for later use though he did not name anyone who helped him dope and remarked doping was his responsibility and choice.

The confession by the Dutch former cyclist came after several reports linked the former Rabobank rider to doping practices, including going to the Vienna lab. The cyclist, who retired in 2007, had two Tour de France stage wins and won the Amstel Gold classic in 1999, narrowly beating Lance Armstrong, who was banned for life from cycling and stripped of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles and later confessing to doping during his seven-straight Tour victories.

Bogart won a Tour stage in 1996 and his best overall finish in the Tour was fifth in 1998. His greatest triumph was widely regarded as the 2002 Tour 16th stage win in the French Alps, including a solo climb to the finish in La Plagne. After announcing his retirement, the Dutch cyclist became a regular cycling commentator for NOS.

With this confession, Boogerd is the latest rider from the now disbanded Rabobank team to admit doping after Michael Rasmussen, a climbing specialist who won stage victories in the Tour de France and Spanish Vuelta, who admitted to taking everything from testosterone and growth hormones to blood transfusions from 1998-2010 for boosting his performance. In 2005 and 2006, Rasmussen finished the Tour de France wearing the polka dot jersey as the best climber and was the overall leader of the 2007 Tour until he was kicked off for lying about his whereabouts when he missed the pre-race doping tests. The cyclist later admitted that he had lied and was given a two-year ban from cycling.

Last year, Rabobank ended its long sponsorship of professional cycling and said the trust in the cycling world has gone after the publication of the US Anti-Doping Agency’s report on Lance Armstrong and Bert Bruggink of the board of governors said that we are no longer convinced that the international professional cycling world is capable of creating a clean and honest sport.

A judicial inquiry was recently opened by Belgian authorities into Dr. Geert Leinders, who worked for the Rabobank and Team Sky cycling teams. An investigation was launched by the prosecutor’s office in Dendermonde after a Dutch newspaper claimed the Belgian doctor played a key role in alleged doping practices at the former Rabobank team.

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