Rus­sian Olympic cham­pion Savi­nova stripped of gold, banned

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

Rus­sian run­ner Maria Savi­nova was stripped of her 2012 Olympic gold medal for dop­ing on Fri­day, putting Caster Se­menya in line to be­come a two-time cham­pion.

Savi­nova, who won the 800-me­ter ti­tle at the Lon­don Games ahead of Se­menya, was also banned for four years by the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport.

CAS said the 31-year-old Savi­nova was “found to have been en­gaged in us­ing dop­ing’’ from July 2010 un­til Au­gust 2013.

In 2014, Savi­nova was caught in un­der­cover footage filmed by Rus­sian dop­ing whistle­blower Yu­lia Stepanova ap­pear­ing to ad­mit to in­ject­ing testos­terone and tak­ing the banned steroid oxan­drolone. The footage helped spark a World An­tiDop­ing Agency in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia, and led to Savi­nova’s blood sam­ples be­ing re-ex­am­ined.

Savi­nova has not raced com­pet­i­tively since 2013. She had been pre­par­ing for a come­back when she was filmed by Stepanova and then sus­pended dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Fol­low­ing fur­ther ev­i­dence of wide­spread drug use, the Rus­sian track team was sus­pended from all in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions in Novem­ber 2015 and missed last year’s Olympics.

If the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee de­cides to re­al­lo­cate the medals from the 2012 fi­nal, Se­menya will add that gold medal to the one she won last year in Rio de Janeiro.

The orig­i­nal bronze medal­list in the 2012 Olympic fi­nal, Eka­te­rina Pois­to­gova of Rus­sia, is also un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for dop­ing. If she is banned, Pamela Je­limo of Kenya would be in line for sil­ver, with bronze for Alysia Mon­tano of the United States. An­other Rus­sian who orig­i­nally fin­ished sixth, Elena Arzahkova, was ret­ro­spec­tively dis­qual­i­fied in 2013 over blood dop­ing.

Se­menya could also be­come a two-time world cham­pion by in­her­it­ing Savi­nova’s gold medal from 2011. Yvonne Hak of the Nether­lands is in line for the 2010 Euro­pean ti­tle, though Savi­nova keeps the 2010 world in­door ti­tle she won ahead of Bri­tain’s Jenny Mead­ows.

The Rus­sian is also obliged to re­turn at least $156,000 in prize money from var­i­ous com­pe­ti­tions where she’s now con­sid­ered dis­qual­i­fied.

The WADA com­mis­sion which in­ves­ti­gated Rus­sian track and field had orig­i­nally rec­om­mended a life­time ban for Savi­nova.

She can ap­peal the CAS rul­ing within 45 days.

In the footage filmed by Stepanova, Savi­nova said dop­ing was the only way to suc­ceed in Rus­sian sport.

“What should we do? How should it go dif­fer­ently? That is our sys­tem and in Rus­sia that only works only with pharma,’’ she said, ac­cord­ing to a tran­script pro­duced by WADA. “Oxan­drolone is very quickly out of my body out again. It takes less than 20 days.’’

Savi­nova also said that her hus­band, former run­ner Alexei Farnosov, had used “con­tacts’’ at a drug-test­ing lab­o­ra­tory to help cover up her dop­ing. The Moscow drug-test­ing lab­o­ra­tory was later shut down and its di­rec­tor tes­ti­fied he had cov­ered up hun­dreds of failed tests by top Rus­sian ath­letes.


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