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Wednesday 16, Dec 2015

  Russian Officials Face Life Ban Over Doping ‘Extortion’ Case

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A three-day disciplinary hearing by the International Association of Athletics Federation’s independent ethics commission into senior athletics officials accused of extorting €450,000 (£330,000) from Liliya Shobukhova to cover up her doping violations could mean a life ban for the officials.

The list of people who are accused of extorting money from the Russian marathon runner includes Gabriel Dollé, the most senior anti-doping official at athletics’ governing body until last year, and Papa Massata Diack, the son of the former IAAF president Lamine Diack. Valentin Balakhnichev, formerly the president of the All-Russia Athletics Federation and treasurer of the IAAF, and the senior Russian endurance coach Alexei Melnikov, are also likely to face sanctions for their alleged involvement in assisting Shobukhova avoid punishment despite suspicious blood samples. A fifth unnamed person is also likely to face disciplinary charges. All the accused are not expected to attend the private hearing of the IAAF independent ethics commission in person but their case will be made by legal representatives.

Liliya Shobukhova, a winner of Chicago and London Marathon, was the second fastest female athlete in history behind Paula Radcliffe until she was banned in 2014. The Russian athlete was allowed to participate in the London Olympics despite anomalies in her blood passport after she allegedly paid €150,000 to Russian officials on three separate occasions that year. Disclosure about the payments surfaced in April 2014 when the IAAF ethics commission chairman, Michael Beloff QC, received a sworn deposition that alleged corruption at the highest level of the IAAF. This document, which was signed by Shobukhova’s agent, Andrei Baranov, included testimony from an IAAF whistleblower. Dollé, Diack Jr., Balakhnichev, and Melnikov were alleged to have received money from Shobukhova and all accused denied any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, French prosecutors are investigating many former officials of the world governing body of athletics, including former IAAF chief Lamine Diack. It was remarked by the national financial prosecutor Eliane Houlette that investigators believe Diack earned “more than €1m” by ignoring the activities of his son, Papa Massata Diack, despite being warned several times. Houlette disclosed that what is certain is that Cissé, the legal adviser to Lamine Diack, traveled to Russia and gave the list of Russian athletes suspected of doping to the Russian federation and, in exchange for sums of money, these athletes were not sanctioned.

In November, Lamine was placed by French police under investigation on preliminary charges of money laundering and corruption. Lamine’s former legal adviser Habib Cissé was also detained and charged with corruption along with Dollé. The whereabouts of Diack Jr., who was employed as a consultant for the IAAF, could not be arrested as he had not traveled to France as planned.

A separate report into corruption at the IAAF by an independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency, led by Dick Pound, is expected to publish its findings in Munich on 14 January. Pound has already issued a warning that people would be very surprised to know how such doping and hiding activities were performed and added it is a complete betrayal of what the people in charge of the sport should be doing.

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Friday 13, Feb 2015

  Maryland Horse Trainers Suspended For Doping Violations

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Three horse trainers have been suspended for doping violations, according to an announcement by Maryland racing officials. The suspensions include a ban of more than a year for Pimlico-based Hector Garcia and a 120-day ban for Scott Lake, who is behind one of the most successful barns at Laurel Park.

A. Ferris Allen received the lightest penalty — a $1,000 fine and a 30-day ban with 15 days suspended if he does not commit another violation over the next three years because of his relatively clean record and testimony from his veterinarian in reducing the suspension. The suspended trainer has filed an appeal with the Maryland Racing Commission.

J. Mike Hopkins, the executive director of the commission, said Ferris Allen’s vet had remarked that they thought they were using it in the proper way, about 35 days out of the race. Hopkins added the Maryland Racing Commission adopted rules that treated any finding of an anabolic steroid in the blood as a violation, a so-called “zero-tolerance” rule, in 2013. Anabolic steroids were not regulated in racing before 2010.

Garcia received the harshest penalty as he had three horses test positive for Stanozolol and one for Xylazine between early December and mid-January. Garcia faces suspensions for each violation and an additional suspension as he accumulated 10 medical violation points under a system designed to punish repeat offenders.

Garcia, who is deputizing for the already-suspended Juan Vazquez, received the maximum wrath. Sal Sinatra, the vice president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, confirmed that Vasquez and Garcia were served with papers that demanded them to vacate the grounds of MJC-owned properties within two weeks. Sinatra remarked we will not tolerate this kind of behavior and will come after those who are found to have broken the rules.

In December, Lake had two horses test positive for Stanozolol and faces a longer penalty as he also had a horse test positive in Pennsylvania last year. The horse trainer plans to appeal the penalties. Lake once ran one of the largest and most successful stables in the United States and focused mostly on claiming horses running at Mid-Atlantic tracks. Years ago, he sharply reduced the size of his stable.

All three trainers ran horses that tested positive for Stanozolol (Winstrol), a banned anabolic steroid in races at Laurel Park in December and January. Hector Garcia also had a horse test positive for the sedative Xylazine and will be banned from training in Maryland until March 2016. The state started operating under new drug testing rules, shared by seven other states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, at the start of last year. Maryland used to allow horses to run with low levels of Stanozolol in their blood. Mike Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, remarked the testing system is working and said he could not speculate on the reason for the sudden rash of violations.

All horses that tested positive were retroactively disqualified from their races, and purses will be redistributed based on the new results. The trainers have been assigned a variety of points under a new penalty system used in a handful of racing states that is designed for assessing the increasing penalties on the trainers if they have any other racing violations in the next several years.

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Thursday 08, Jan 2015

  Anti-doping Regulations For 2015 Revamped By UCI

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Anti-doping Regulations For 2015 Revamped By UCI

The Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body for sports cycling and oversees international competitive cycling events, has revamped its rules in line with the new World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code.

The new rules now includes a 10-year statute of limitations (up from eight), more explicit consequences for riders who are found associated with banned individuals, the ability to impose anti-doping rule violations on individuals based upon third-party testimony, four-year bans for serious doping cases, and more clarity on Therapeutic Use Exemptions. The world governing body of cycling’s rules now allow it to ban and impose fine on teams for incurring multiple doping violations.

The new regulations allow the UCI to impose fines a WorldTour or Professional Continental team five per cent of their annual budget upon the second and the third confirmed doping sanctions in a 12-month period. Now, teams can face suspension from international competition for a period of 15-45 days upon the second notification of an anti-doping rule violation, depending on a decision by the UCI Disciplinary Commission. Previously, teams were punished only for an individual rider’s anti-doping rule violation in relation to a team competition, such as a team time trial or team pursuit, by result disqualifications.

Cheating cyclists who promptly admit to doping can have their doping ban reduced to two years depending on the seriousness of the violation.

A comment reads use or Attempted Use may also be established by other reliable means such as admissions by the Rider, witness statements, documentary evidence, conclusions drawn from longitudinal profiling, including data collected as part of the Rider Biological Passport, or other analytical information which does not otherwise satisfy all the requirements to establish “Presence” of a Prohibited Substance under Article 2.1.

The new UCI anti-doping regulations apply to everyone who is participating in cycling events in any capacity, and anyone associated with teams, support, or preparation of riders, whether they have a UCI license or not. The new rules state that any association by riders with a banned individual “in a professional or sport-related capacity” can result in an anti-doping rule violation. The specific language of the latest anti-doping regulations allows for a rider to receive punishment to be punished for associating not only with someone who has been banned for an anti-doping rule violation but also anyone who has been “convicted or found in a criminal, disciplinary or professional proceeding” to have done something that would constitute an anti-doping rule violation if the rules had been applied to them.

The world governing body of cycling also included a provision to apply the rules to individuals who are a “front or intermediary” for a banned person. The UCI however specifies that riders will be provided ample warning before they will be punished. Under the rules, it is necessary in order for this provision to apply that the Rider or other Person has previously been advised in writing by an Anti-Doping Organization with jurisdiction over the Rider or other Person, or by WADA, of the Rider Support Person’s disqualifying status and the potential consequence of prohibited association.

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Tuesday 25, Nov 2014

  Lack Of Blood Test Labs In Kenya Blamed For Surge in Violations

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Lack Of Blood Test Labs In Kenya Blamed For Surge in Violations

Former one-hour-run world-record holder athlete Jos Hermens has blamed absence of blood testing laboratories in Kenya for several doping violations in the recent past.

In 2012, Mathew Kisorio, who has the world’s third fastest timing of 58.46 minutes in half marathon was banned for two years. Two-time Chicago Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo recently tested positive for doping while Jemima Sumgong, who finished second to Rita in Chicago this year, received a doping ban of two years that was later reversed. These doping incidents have casted doubts about the reputation of Kenya as a powerhouse in long distance running.

Hermens, whose Global Sports Communication manages many elite African athletes, said the the news of Jeptoo returning positive for Erythropoietin (EPO) was shocking. EPO is naturally-producing hormone by the kidneys that can be artificially produced to improve endurance by injecting it into the blood. Hermens said it is a very common thing due to which athletes are getting caught nowadays. The former one-hour-run world-record holder added the doping control in Kenya is very difficult because there is no blood testing laboratory and EPO is a blood booster. For testing, the blood has to go to Europe and it is difficult to transport the blood and added blood testing is the most preferred way of catching athletes using EPO and growth hormones.

The 64-year-old, who has the distinction of covering 20,944 meters for the world record in 1976, said EPO was a very complicated substance to detect. He remarked fresh red blood cells live for 30 days only and so you not only need to consistently monitor the EPO level, but also track an athlete for more than two years to have an idea of the numbers that remain in the blood. Hermens, who competed for the Netherlands in the 10,000 meter race in the 1976 Olympics, also remarked remote location of Kenya’s training areas also made it difficult to get blood samples to any accredited labs within the mandated 36 hours. The athlete blamed sports physicians and pharmacists for the doping problems in Kenya. Hermens said long distance running is a big business in Kenya and there is a lot of competition to get into the teams and so some doctors tell them they can run faster if they follow their advice. He added several athletes are not educated enough and they fall into the trap and the doctors are to be blamed because what they are doing is crime.

Hermens also remarked the low standard of living among Kenyans made them physically tough as they are used to living with less oxygen because they live in high altitude areas.  Hermens went on to add that Kenyans have so much talent that there is no need for doping. Jos Hermens added we educate them for learning nuances of running and we manage their daily affairs. The athlete said it is very important regarding doping that every time they go to the hospital, they need to let us know because sometimes they get the wrong medicine and they can have a problem.

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Tuesday 22, Jul 2014

  Gareth Warburton Banned From Commonwealth Games

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Gareth Warburton Banned From Commonwealth Games

Welsh 800m runner Gareth Warburton has been provisionally suspended from all competition for committing anti-doping violations, according to an announcement by UK Athletics.

Warburton was charged with committing anti-doping rule violations under UK Athletics Anti-Doping Rules (presence of prohibited substances). The 800m runner competed in the London Olympics and was expected to compete for Wales in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The 31-year-old athlete, who hails from Caernarfon, has the opportunity to respond to the charges against him.

A Welsh Athletics statement said Welsh Athletics can confirm the provisional suspension of athlete Gareth Warburton after being charged with committing anti-doping rule violations under UK Athletics Anti-Doping Rules (presence of prohibited substances). It was added that Gareth has the opportunity to respond to the charges against him, and to have those charges determined at a full hearing before the National Anti-Doping Panel. The statement also said Welsh Athletics strongly supports clean sport and has established a comprehensive education program for its athletes and also remarked Welsh Athletics will not be making any further comment.

Brian Davies, Chef de Mission of Team Wales, said Team Wales can confirm that one of the competitors selected for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games has been provisionally suspended after being charged with committing an anti-doping rule violation. Davies remarked Gareth Warburton as a result will no longer be able to compete at the Games and went on to remark that as the athlete is presumed innocent unless and until the charges brought against him have been upheld it would be inappropriate for us to comment further. Davies also said Team Wales is committed to providing athletes with the necessary education required to ensure we compete as clean athletes at a clean Games, and have worked closed with UK Anti-Doping in the build up to Glasgow 2014.

In another development, double world champion Helen Jenkins has pulled out of Glasgow through injury. Considered by many as Wales’ main medal triathlon hope, Jenkins was ruled out with a leg problem. Jenkins remarked she is obviously devastated and added she was very proud to be selected to represent Wales and was looking forward to racing on a tough, honest triathlon course in Strathclyde. The 30-year-old she will get more information from the specialist but with a grade two tear of her Plantar Fascia, it’s almost certain that she would not be racing again this season. The Bridgend star, who finished fifth at the London Olympics in 2012 and was crowned world champion in 2008 and 2011, she particularly wants to thank her support team who have worked so hard to get her back racing after such a difficult 18 months after the Olympics. Brian Davies remarked it is undoubtedly a huge blow to the team and she’ll be sorely missed but first and foremost our thoughts are with Helen. The Chef de Mission of Team Wales said we wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her in action again in the near future.

The Commonwealth triathlon takes place on the opening day of the Games, July 24.

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Thursday 26, Dec 2013

  Track Champion Alptekin Cleared After Doping Probe

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Track Champion Alptekin Cleared After Doping Probe

Olympic champion Asli Cakir Alptekin has been cleared of doping violations by the Turkish Athletics Federation following an investigation. It was announced by the federations that it didn’t found any violation of doping rules by last year’s 1,500-meter gold medalist.

A statement from the disciplinary commission on the Turkish federation’s website revealed that it has been decided that there is no grounds for national sporting sanctions against Asli Cakir Alptekin as she did not violate any anti-doping rules and the disciplinary measures imposed on the athlete have been lifted.

The IAAF made a request for the probe early this year after abnormal blood values in Alptekin’s biological profile were found. The IAAF can now appeal the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It said the IAAF will review the decision upon receipt and decide whether or not it should be appealed to CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport) as per IAAF rules.

Alptekin won the gold medal in the 1500 m at the 2011 Summer Universiade and then won the bronze medal in the 1500 m event at the 2012 World Indoor Championships held in Istanbul. The Turkish female middle distance runner is coached by her husband, runner Ihsan Alptekin. She was banned in 2004 for two years.

One of Turkey’s most decorated athletes, Alptekin was facing a life ban and it was previously confirmed by the IAAF that Alptekin will be stripped of her Olympic title, with compatriot Gamze Bulut being upgraded to the gold if the Turkish athlete was found guilty. Suspicions about the athletes were raised a few weeks before the London Games when Alptekin won a 1500m race at the Paris Diamond League meeting in a barely credible time of 3min 56.62sec. British athlete Lisa Dobriskey minutes after the Olympic final said she will probably get into trouble for saying this but she doesn’t think she is playing on a level playing field. Dobriskey said it was horrible to see that athlete do a lap of honor and prance around with her country’s flag and she hadn’t planned to speak out but she was asked how she felt about a former drugs cheat winning Olympic gold.

Her compatriot and European 110m hurdles champion Nevin Yanit was not as lucky and was given a ban of two years in August this year. The Turkish female sprinter specializing in high hurdling and is a two time European champion in the 100m hurdles, and current European indoor champion in the 60m hurdles. The two-time European 100 meters hurdles champion tested positive for a banned substance during a meeting in Dusseldorf on February 8 this year. In July, the IAAF remarked it is aware of media speculation surrounding the recent anti-doping control tests, in and out of competition, of a number of Turkish athletes. It added the IAAF with the national anti-doping agency following concerns highlighted by abnormal biological passport values intensified the testing program in Turkey, the results of which remain ongoing in accordance with IAAF Rules.

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Sunday 14, Apr 2013

  NRL To Launch Whistleblower Program

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NRL To Launch Whistleblower Program

The Australian National Rugby League has come up with an eight-page whistleblower blueprint of the Whistleblower Protection Program (WPP) and the same has been circulated to all 16 clubs in the wake of the ASADA investigation.

The league recently established an integrity unit and a hotline to call with information about doping offenses and this policy makes it clear that whistleblowers will be granted immunity as an incentive. A few months back, there was a push by NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert to electronically audit clubs, inserting computer chips to download files from their hard drives just before Christmas.

The Whistleblower Protection Program may be implemented by the NRL to show to its stakeholders that every move is being reported or monitored and this latest development will be a drive towards self-policing, with officials, players, and even members of the general public encouraged to tip-off information about doping violations, match-fixing or common disciplinary breaches. The blueprint reads: The NRL should promote a culture that encourages the reporting of (misconduct) by implementing a policy for granting administrative immunity for whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, the National Rugby League has justified the whistleblower program as another measure of good corporate governance and transparency and a spokesman said if you’re going to set it up, then you have to go the whole way and put the right structures in place and this structure will include two new roles at League Central wherein a Whistleblower Protection Officer will be appointed to liaise with the informant and assure their complete anonymity while a Whistleblower Investigation Officer will then conduct an inquiry into the complaint before passing on his or her findings directly to NRL boss Dave Smith. The entire process would begin with a phone call to a 1300 hotline, an email to a dedicated address or letter to a specific post office box.

The document reads the importance of reporting corrupt and illegal practices and the NRL’s reasons for such reporting should be part of a formalized training program and this should be done as part of any NRL induction and via ongoing training emphasizing the undesirability of malicious or vexatious reporting and those who come forward with false or vindictive complaints could find themselves in the firing line. Whistleblowers will be granted “administrative immunity” from disciplinary proceedings as long as they have not engaged in serious misconduct or illegal activity and players & officials will be regularly educated about the importance of reporting misconduct.

The league has already been approached with two companies with offers to collect the information, with STOPline the preferred provider thanks to its work with Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner. At this point of time, the document is adamant that the stakeholders must be indoctrinated from the moment they join the game. The trick will be to encourage players and officials to actually use the hotline. Meanwhile, many officials, players and agents were shocked and underwhelmed about the concept of the Australian National Rugby League encouraging a culture of dobbing. The NRL, however, remarked that the program won’t be implemented until feedback is gathered from the clubs, who received the document last month.

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Thursday 23, Oct 2008

  Seven Russian athletes get two-year ban for violating doping code

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russia_steroidsThe Russian athletic federation slapped suspensions to seven high-profile Russian woman athletes due to doping violations.

The said athletes had been initially suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations in August when it was discovered that they switched urine samples in drug tests conducted last year. They were found out when DNA results pointed to sample irregularities.

According to AFP report, the seven athletes who each received a two-year retroactive ban included  middle distance runners Yelena Soboleva, Svetlana Cherkasova, Yulia Fomenko, former double world champion Tatyana Tomashova and Olga Yegorova, hammer thrower Gulfiya Khanafeyeva – a former world champion, and reigning European discus champion Darya Pishchalnikova.

Valentin Balakhnichev, the head of the Russian athletics federation, said Monday: “We suspended for two years all of the seven athletes involved in the case for violations of the doping code.

“The bans come into action from April or May 2007, the date when the samples were given for tests.”