Rus­sia's Dop­ing Saga Con­tin­ues

SkiTrax - - Out In Front -

As the 2016 Rio Olympics ap­proach, ques­tions re­main about Rus­sian ath­letes, es­pe­cially those in track and field. The story be­gan with al­le­ga­tions of sys­temic dop­ing in Rus­sia as first re­vealed by the Ger­man TV broad­caster ARD in late 2014. The World Anti-dop­ing Agency (WADA) – headed by Cana­dian Dick Pound – has is­sued two re­ports on the sub­ject.

While these two re­ports fo­cused on track and field, other sports named by ARD in­cluded cy­cling, swim­ming, weightlift­ing and win­ter sports. Mean­while, the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC) has been retest­ing sam­ples from the 2012 Lon­don Olympics to find pos­i­tive re­sults in 23 ath­letes from five sports and six coun­tries from 265 sam­ples. Ad­di­tion­ally, 14 Rus­sians from the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics were found pos­i­tive dur­ing retest­ing.

ARD'S in­for­ma­tion comes from Vi­taly Stepanov, a former of­fi­cial with the Rus­sian Anti-dop­ing Agency (RUSADA), and from Grig­ory Rod­chenkov, who ran Rus­sia's now-dis­cred­ited drug-test­ing lab dur­ing the 2014 Sochi Win­ter Games. Stepanov and his wife, Yuliya, a former track star on the Rus­sian team, ex­posed the state-spon­sored dop­ing preva­lent in Rus­sia; this led to the team be­ing sus­pended from in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

Rod­chenkov has ap­par­ently boasted about mak­ing pos­i­tive dop­ing tests “dis­ap­pear” and of hav­ing de­vel­oped a cock­tail of three an­abolic steroids – metenolone, tren­bolone and oxan­drolone – re­port­edly used by many top-level Rus­sian ath­letes lead­ing up to the Lon­don Olympics in 2012 and through­out the Sochi Games.

This cock­tail – dis­solved in ei­ther Chivas whisky or Mar­tini ver­mouth – speeded re­cov­ery times, al­low­ing ath­letes to com­pete in top form over suc­ces­sive days. Part of the scheme in­volved break­ing into “tam­per-proof” self-lock­ing glass bot­tles made by Swiss com­pany Ber­linger, pro­duced for in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions. The scheme was deemed a suc­cess: at Sochi, Rus­sian ath­letes won 33 medals – in­clud­ing 13 golds.

Now liv­ing in ex­ile in the U.S., Rod­chenkov also in­di­cates that not all ath­letes on the “pro­tected” list at Sochi won medals, but one who did is a Nordic ski star, Alexan­der Legkov, who se­cured gold in the 50km freestyle event at Sochi 2014.

Many Rus­sian ath­letes have also tested pos­i­tive for mel­do­nium (trade name: Mil­dronate), which is pro­duced by Lat­vian-based phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany Grindeks pri­mar­ily to treat var­i­ous car­dio­vas­cu­lar com­plaints. On Jan. 1, 2016, WADA added mel­do­nium to its list of banned sub­stances, but ques­tions re­main as to how long traces of this drug re­main in the body tests in ques­tion.

Vi­taly Mutko, the Rus­sian sports min­is­ter, con­firmed that ap­prox­i­mately 40 Rus­sian ath­letes have re­cently tested pos­i­tive for mel­do­nium. Legkov was not one of them, but ad­mit­ted to tak­ing the drug be­fore it was put on WADA'S banned list. – JS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.