THE BIG PICTURE: Court of Arbitration for Sport confirms 12 Russian track & field positives

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) came under enormous criticism after reversing 28 suspensions handed out by the International Olympic Committee’s Disciplinary Commission last year, mostly on grounds that actual evidence of tampering with samples had not been definitively shown.

But on Friday, CAS announced that it had confirmed 12 cases of doping in track & field, with evidence gathered from the work of Canadian law professor Richard McLaren and advanced by the Athletics Integrity Unit of the IAAF:

“Having studied the reports issued by Prof. McLaren, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), on behalf of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), pursued allegations of anti-doping rule violations (‘ADRVs’) against several Russian athletes, in particular to the effect that these athletes participated in and/or benefited from anabolic steroid doping programs and benefited from specific protective methods (washout schedules) in the period 2012 (Olympic Games in London) – 2013 (World Championships in Moscow).

“Following the appeals filed by the IAAF at the CAS, each procedure was conducted separately and referred to a Sole Arbitrator. In all cases, the athletes have been found guilty of ADRVs under the IAAF Rules and individual sanctions have been imposed by the CAS on each of the 12 athletes concerned. These first-instance decisions may be appealed to the CAS Appeals Arbitration Division within 21 days.”

The athletes involved and some of their results to be nullified:

Men (3):
● Lyukman Adams (triple jump) ~ 2014 World Indoor Champion
● Ivan Ukhov (high jump) ~ 2012 Olympic Champion
● Ivan Yushkov (shot put)

Women (9):
● Anna Bulgakova (hammer) ~ already serving a doping suspension
● Gulfiya Agafonova Khana feeva (hammer) ~ second doping positive
● Mariya Bespalova (hammer) ~ already serving a doping suspension
● Tatyana Firova (400 m) ~ 2010 World Indoor 400 m silver medalist
● Vera Ganeeva (discus) ~ already serving a doping suspension
● Yekaterina Galitskaia (100 m hurdles)
● Yuliya Kondakova (100 m hurdles)
● Tatyana Lysenko (hammer) ~ 2013 World Champion; second doping positive
● Svetlana Shkolina (high jump) ~ 2013 World Champion, 2012 Olympic bronze

So two Olympic medals and two World Championship golds are impacted.

This finding has some far-reaching consequences, not the least of which is further support for the work of Prof. McLaren. This could be critical in track & field, as one of the requirements for the Russian Athletics Federation to be reinstated is to accept the findings of the two McLaren Reports.

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s Olivier Niggli (SUI) issued a somewhat self-congratulatory statement lauding the decision – even though WADA was not part of this action – but also adding that “This highlights also, once again, just how important the successful retrieval of the analytical data from the former Moscow Laboratory by WADA last month is for clean sport and reinforces the decision taken by the WADA Executive Committee (ExCo) on 20 September 2018 to reinstate as compliant the Russian Anti-Doping Agency under strict conditions, including access to the data. This large amount of data, which would not have been retrieved without that September ExCo decision, is currently being verified and assessed and, if found to be authentic, will be used to bring forward more cases against those who cheated.”

It’s worth noting that McLaren himself estimated that the Moscow Lab data could reveal as many as 300-600 new doping cases, based on his own work on the project.

So this could just the start of a series of announcements, including the re-award of medals from the 2012 Olympic Games and 2013 World Championships in events impacted by these doping confirmations.

And, these findings place some added pressure on WADA to authenticate the data retrieved from the Moscow Lab and for the Russians to hand over a potentially large number of samples from that lab for re-testing outside of Russia. That process has to be completed by 30 June of this year or Russia could be re-suspended by WADA, and potentially others.

The International Paralympic Committee announced that it will have an update on the status of the still-suspended Russian Paralympic Committee on 8 February.

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