2012 Olympic women’s steeplechase champ Zapirova fails doping retest
Team CEEREF ready for the final flight in Malta
The RC44 Valletta Cup, being staged between tomorrow and Sunday, is set to be one of the closest fought finals in the RC44’s ten-year history. With only seven points separating the top seven teams and with each boat capable of making it onto the podium it will be a case of who can master the Mistral racing against the backdrop of the city’s magnificent fortress.
Having quietly risen to prominence throughout the year, Team CEEREF go into the RC44 Championship Tour grand final next week in pole position, with a slim two-point lead over five-time RC44 Champions Team Aqua.
Not feeling the pressure Slovenian owner Igor Lah explained: “I am not superstitious so I do not believe past results can predict future ones. Obviously, everyone is trying really hard and putting a lot of effort to be as good as possible.
“As the class has matured everyone’s knowledge of how to optimise the boats performance has grown, so it’s going to be tough, but I’m also very competitive so it really pushes me on.”
But, when the racing is so close luck also plays its part, last month at the RC44 Cascais Cup the Slovenian team had the title in their sights until disaster struck and their spinnaker gracefully divided in two splitting across its centre from luff to leech. This caused them to drop from third to seventh and to lose the RC44 Cascais Cup by a mere point to Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Swedish boat Artemis Racing.
Having clinched the crown in the final metres of the final race, Tornqvist’s experienced crew are expected to do well in Malta as, the much like the Portuguese racecourse, the conditions will be not so much about the shifts as handling the sea state and keeping the boat under control.
It has been a turbulent year for the 2015 defending champions Team Nika but the onus is now on them to show the will of a champion and bounce back. A disappointing eighth at the World Championship in Sotogrande has seen the team fight back all season going into the final in fourth place tied on 12 points with fifth placed Peninsula Petroleum.
Of the remaining challengers to the podium Bronenosec Sailing Team hold 13 points in sixth place followed by Katusha on 14 points in seventh. Yulia Zaripova, the Russian gold medalist in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2012 London Olympics, was among 12 more athletes sanctioned yesterday after testing positive in a reanalysis of their doping samples.
Zaripova was among seven medalists - all from countries of the former Soviet Union - disqualified retroactively from the London Games after their stored samples were retested with improved techniques and came back positive for banned substances.
Also sanctioned yesterday by the International Olympic Committee were nine weightlifters, a hammer thrower and a long jumper.
Zaripova tested positive for the steroid turinabol on a urine sample she provided after winning the steeplechase final on 6 August, 2012, the IOC said.
Zaripova was already expected to lose the gold medal over a separate doping violation prosecuted by the IAAF. She had previously served a 2½-year ban for irregularities in her biological passport. As a result of that violation, the Court of Arbitration for Sport had disqualified all of her results from July 2011 to July 2013, including the London Olympics.
A three-person IOC disciplinary commission said in its ruling that a decision in Zaripova’s case “has already been issued and has become final and binding” and “there is no longer any interest to continue the present proceedings and to issue a decision.”
The panel recommended that the IOC implement the IAAF decision to amend the Olympic results and strip Zaripova of the gold medal. Under the revised results, Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia takes the gold, with Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia moving to silver and Milcah Chemos Cheywa of Kenya the bronze.
Other athletes stripped of London medals yesterday were: Alexander Ivanov, Russia, silver, men’s 94kilogram weightlifting division; Natliya Zabolotnaya, Russia, silver, women’s 75kg weightlifting; Cristina Iovu, Moldova, bronze, women’s 53kg weightlifting; Hripsime Khurshudyan, Armenia, bronze, women’s 75kg weightlifting; Irina Kulesha, Belarus, bronze, women’s 75kg weightlifting; and Anatoli Ciricu, Moldova, bronze, men’s 94kg weightlifting.
The non-medalists were Andrei Demanov, Russia, fourth place, men’s 94kg weightlifting; Oleksandr Dryhol, Ukraine, 34th place, men’s hammer throw; Rauli Tsirekidze, Georgia, ninth place, 85kg weightlifting; Margaryta Tverdokhlib, Ukraine, 26th place, women’s long jump; and Almas Uteshov, Kazakhstan, seventh place, men’s 94kg weightlifting.
The IOC reanalysed more than 1,000 stored samples from the London Games and 2008 Beijing Games in order to catch cheats who escaped detection at the time. The new tests can detect the use of steroids going back weeks and months, rather than days.
The IOC recorded at least 98 positive tests from the London and Beijing retesting program, with more expected in the pipeline. The IOC also plans to retest samples from the 2014 Sochi Winter Games after the former Russian lab director said samples were manipulated to cover up doping by Russian athletes.