Rus­sian dop­ing might keep Yarnold from skele­ton worlds

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Olympic women’s skele­ton gold medal­ist Lizzy Yarnold is con­sid­er­ing skip­ping this sea­son’s world cham­pi­onships in Rus­sia, cit­ing dop­ing con­cerns. In in­ter­views with the BBC and other Bri­tish news agen­cies Mon­day, Yarnold said she’s also call­ing upon the In­ter­na­tional Bob­sled and Skele­ton Fed­er­a­tion - the sport’s govern­ing body to con­sider hold­ing the com­pe­ti­tion else­where. “I just want the IBSF to be strong enough to make a de­ci­sion that de­fends the true val­ues of clean sport,” Yarnold told the BBC.

Yarnold won gold at the Sochi Games on the same track where worlds are sched­uled to be held this win­ter. Many ath­letes from those games - in­clud­ing Lat­vian men’s skele­ton sil­ver medal­ist Martins Dukurs and US women’s skele­ton vet­eran Katie Uh­laen­der, who was fourth and fin­ished be­hind a Rus­sian slider have ex­pressed sim­i­lar con­cerns since Rus­sia’s state-spon­sored dop­ing pro­gram was ex­posed ear­lier this year.

“I think ath­letes have been pretty vo­cal about pos­si­bly com­pet­ing against ath­letes who were cheat­ing,” USA Bob­sled and Skele­ton CEO Dar­rin Steele told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Mon­day. “It’s not sur­pris­ing. I don’t think one ath­lete go­ing pub­lic is a sur­prise. I think there’s been some pretty strong state­ments made, not nec­es­sar­ily with a call to ac­tion but from ath­letes in gen­eral who have pretty strong feel­ings about this - as they should.”

Yarnold said she does not want to ex­pose her­self to rac­ing against cheaters, and in a place where she will won­der “what is go­ing to hap­pen to my dop­ing sam­ples.” “I’m not sure whether I want to com­pete in Sochi or can com­pete in Sochi if I don’t know if it’s a clean play­ing field,” Yarnold said.

But time con­cerns might make it im­pos­si­ble to move the world cham­pi­onships, even if ath­letes want to see it hap­pen. The sec­ond re­port from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion led by Cana­dian law pro­fes­sor Richard McLaren into Rus­sia’s dop­ing pro­gram is not ex­pected un­til early De­cem­ber - a lit­tle more than two months be­fore worlds are set to be­gin.

McLaren was ap­pointed by the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency to in­ves­ti­gate cor­rup­tion claims, and his first re­port in July de­tailed a plot to swap out Rus­sian ath­letes’ dop­ing-tainted urine sam­ples from 2011 through 2015. “The world of sport is go­ing through a huge up­heaval and mas­sive dop­ing is­sues,” Yarnold said. “All in­ter­na­tional sport is. And skele­ton is by no means clean. That’s the prob­lem at the mo­ment - we don’t nec­es­sar­ily know who is dop­ing and how to catch them.” — AP

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