“Russia lost its top ranking in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the most expensive in history, when it was stripped of two more gold medals in the doping scandal that’s engulfed the nation’s athletes…
“Russian resentment over the doping allegations, which the Kremlin denies, is already a source of tension with the U.S. President Vladimir Putin, who personally oversaw the $50 billion preparations for the Games, has accused the U.S. of using the question of Russian participation in the Olympics as a means to influence presidential elections next March, in which he’s expected to seek a record fourth term…
“The IOC’s review of Russian athletes at Sochi followed the report of an independent commission last year. It concluded that Russian officials engaged in a “systematic scheme” to obscure positive dope-test results involving about 1,000 athletes from 2011-2015. The commission led by Richard McLaren found that Russia developed the program after its athletes finished in 11th place with just three gold medals at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, its worst performance since the collapse of the Soviet Union…
“Putin said last month that the IOC could try to force Russian athletes to compete in PyeongChang under a neutral flag, which he called “humiliating”. Russia, which avoided a blanket ban at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, though its track-and-field athletes were barred, has said its team will only compete in South Korea under the national flag.
“While Putin ordered officials to set up a new anti-doping body in response to the commission’s findings, Russia denies any state-run program of cheating existed. Putin complained that sport was being turned into a tool of “geopolitical pressure” on Russia.
“WADA has called on Russian authorities to hand over all electronic files and stored urine samples from the national anti-doping agency’s laboratory in Moscow, something officials have refused to do. It’s demanded that Russia “publicly accept” the commission’s findings…”
–‘Russia Loses Sochi Olympic Crown as Doping Scandal Claims Medals’,
Anthony Halpin, Bloomberg, November 24, 2017
Feature IMAGE: International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegates are seen during the IOC extraordinary session in Lausanne, Switzerland July 11, 2017. (REUTERS–Pierre Albouy)
“The honorary president of Russia’s Olympic Committee believes the man responsible for exposing the country’s state-sponsored doping program should be executed.
“Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Moscow’s anti-doping lab, exposed the scheme in 2016 after fleeing to the United States.
“Rodchenkov should be shot for lying, like Stalin would have done,”
Olympic official Leonid Tyagachev said on a Russian radio station, according to the Guardian.
“Tyagachev’s remark may sound like hyperbole but Russia has a long history of killing political opponents—two former doping officials died under mysterious circumstances last year—and Rodchenkov fled to the U.S. over fears for his safety…”
–‘Russian Official Calls for Doping Whistleblower to Be Shot ‘Like Stalin Would Have Done’,
Dan Gartland, Sports Illustrated, November 17, 2017
“In a combative mood…Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko defended himself and his country amid an ongoing Olympic doping scandal…
“Nowadays, everyone is trying to make some kind of axis of evil out of us, just because we’re a great sporting power,” Mutko said…
“Mutko once more insisted “there is no proof” of a state-backed doping system, despite an IOC judging panel this week detailing why it believed organized cheating did corrupt the 2014 Sochi Games…”
–‘Russian Deputy PM Mutko defiant about Olympic scandal’,
Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press,12.01.2017
“Nineteen Russian athletes have now been banned for life from the Olympic Games for doping…
“Another five Russian athletes were banned for life from the Olympics on Monday after the event’s international governing body found they had doped at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.
“The ‘International Olympic Committee’ (IOC) handed down bans for gold medalist bobsledders Aleksei Negodailo and Dmitry Trunenkov, silver medalist biathletes Yana Romanova and Olga Vilukhina and skeleton athlete Sergei Chudinov.
“The decision also stripped the four medal winners of their awards.
“The Russian Bobsleigh Federation said the lifetime bans against Negodailo, Trunenkov and Chudinov lacked any legal foundation and was “the height of injustice“…”
–‘Doping scandal: Lifetime Olympic bans for 5 more Russian athletes’,
DW, Nov.28, 2017
“Three more Russian Olympians have been retroactively disqualified from the 2014 Games that occurred in Sochi. This time it’s bobsledders Alexander Kasyanov, Alexei Pushkarev and Ilyir Khuzin. The disqualification comes due to a widespread doping scandal that Russia operated during the 2014 Olympics.
“The Russian teammates would have ended up being bronze after the gold-winning Russian sled team was disqualified for doping. The newly-disqualifed team finished in fourth during the initial event. Alexander Zubkob, who won gold twice and currently serves as the president of the Russian Bobsled Federation, was also banned.
“The bronze medal is now slated to go to the British team should the International Olympic Committee redistribute the medals. It would be Britain’s first bobsled medal since 1998, albeit coming by unconventional terms. President Vladimir Putin has discredited the scandal from the start, saying the US is using the allegations “to discredit his government.”
“One of the terms of the sanctions against Russia included admitting that there was a doping scandal. Russia has failed to do so at this point, and the lack of cooperation likely means that more sanctions are coming. As the 2018 games in PyeongChang draw closer, the windfall will likely continue for the Russian team.”
–‘Russia has three more bobsledders disqualified from Olympics for doping’,
Kevin Skiver, CBS Sports, Nov. 29, 2017
“For more than a year, Russian officials have denied the findings of the ‘McLaren Report’ and rejected the evidence that it had operated a system of doping.
“Those findings, which were detailed in a report from Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren last year,
have become the foundation for the decision of an ‘International Olympic Committee’ commission that is sanctioning Russian athletes for their role in that system during the 2014 Olympics.
“Five more athletes, including medalists in biathlon and bobsled, were sanctioned on Monday, bringing the total to 19 Russians and 11 medals that have been disqualified from the Sochi Games.
“The IOC also released the full decision from the ‘Oswald Commission’, which is chaired by Denis Oswald, in the case against cross country skier Alexander Legkov.
“Legkov’s disqualification was one of the first announced earlier this month, and the reasoning behind it provides the clearest indicator yet that the IOC has accepted the evidence McLaren uncovered.
“It also agreed that Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director turned whistle blower, is a “truthful witness”.
“is more than comfortably satisfied that the evidence establishes that a scheme of sample-swapping as described in the McLaren Report and the affidavit of Dr. Rodchenkov was indeed in place and implemented in Sochi.”
“The decisions of the Oswald Commission come as the IOC is set to decide sanctions on Russia at its executive board meeting Tuesday.
“A separate commission chaired by Samuel Schmid is examining the system of doping and is expected to produce a report this month.
“Russia’s continued denial of McLaren’s findings and failure to accept responsibility for operating the system led the World Anti-Doping Agency to continue the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s non-compliance with the world anti-doping code earlier this month. It has similarly contributed to continued suspensions by the ‘International Paralympic Committee’ and ‘International Association of Athletics Federations’.
“Russian officials have instead tried to pin blame for the system on Rodchenkov, who provided much of the evidence to McLaren and is in protective custody in the United States.
“Rodchenkov’s testimony, including an affidavit he provided to the commission last month, is supported by testing commissioned by the IOC.
“The Oswald Commission concludes that
“whatever his motivation may be and whichever wrongdoing he may have committed in the past, Dr. Rodchenkov was telling the truth when he provided explanations of the cover-up scheme that he managed.”
“That scheme was detailed in McLaren’s report, the result of a WADA-commissioned investigation, which found urine swapping through a hole in the wall in Sochi. The report included 28 Russian athletes who competed there and had evidence that showed their samples had been tampered with.
“Ultimately, more than 1,000 Russian athletes were involved in the system, McLaren’s report showed.
“The Oswald Commission tasked experts with analyzing scratch marks on the sample bottles, as well as salt levels, both of which could be evidence of tampering.
“In Legkov’s case, multiple scratch marks were found on two of his samples, including one taken the day he won the 50-kilometer event. Rodchenkov stated in his affidavit that he swapped Legkov’s urine after that race.
“The commission concluded that in Legkov’s inclusion on the ‘Duchess List’ – so dubbed because of a Duchess cocktail athletes swished to dope – was evidence of doping in the absence of a positive sample.
“Accepting that the scheme existed, the commission concludes that could not have happened without the participation of athletes, who additionally had to provide clean urine in advance of the Games so it could be swapped for their samples during the competition.
“Clean athletes do not need any protection and the swapping of urine samples of clean athletes would have been completely unreasonable”, the commission wrote. “Such a scenario is so improbable that the (commission) deems it impossible.”
“Legkov’s decision is the first released, but similar reasoning is expected for other cases.
“The latest sanctions included Olga Vilukhina, who won two silver medals in biathlon, and teammate Yana Romanova, who was also part of the Russian’s silver-medal winning relay in the 4×6-kilometer.
“Bobsledders Dmitrii Trunenkov and Aleksei Negodailo, who won gold as part of the four-man sled, were disqualified. Alexander Zubkov, the pilot of that sled and the winning two-man sled, was sanctioned last week.
“Skeleton athlete Sergei Chudinov was also sanctioned on Monday.
“Leaders from 37 national anti-doping organizations have signed on to a statement calling for the IOC to ban Russia, with a path for Russians to compete as neutral athletes provided they can demonstrate their anti-doping record.
“Russian officials have threatened to boycott the Games should they receive such a sanction.
“The Oswald Commission’s reasoned decisions and acceptance of McLaren’s findings are likely to add to calls for strong and collective sanctions against Russia.
“Whatever the IOC’s decision next week, the Oswald Commission made clear the devastating effects of the Russian doping scheme. Calling it “one of the worst ever blows against the integrity and reputation of the Olympic Games”, the commission concluded it is justified in declaring Legkov ineligible for the Pyeongchang Olympics in February.
“From the Olympic Movement perspective, and particularly from the perspective of clean athletes, who feel cheated and deprived of participation in the Olympic Games under honest and fair conditions”, the commission wrote, “no adequate consequences have been so far drawn.”
–‘IOC commission accepts McLaren’s findings, paves way for sanctions against Russia’,
Rachel Axon, USA TODAY Sports, Nov. 27, 2017
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