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On Eve of World Championships, CAS Rejects Russian Athletes’ Appeals

On Tuesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced it rejected the appeals of five Russian cross-country skiers — Alexey Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Alexander Legkov and Evgeniy Belov — regarding their provisional suspensions handed down by the International Ski Federation (FIS) Doping Panel on Jan. 25 and Feb. 6.

The five athletes had appealed in hopes of competing at 2017 FIS Nordic World Championships in Lahti, Finland, which start in earnest on Thursday.

In Dec. 22, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) opened investigations against those athletes based on evidence of urine-sample tampering or sample manipulation during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, information that came from the second McLaren report. That same day, the FIS Doping Panel issued provisional suspensions for those athletes, and those suspensions were confirmed Jan. 25 and Feb. 6.

“The decisions issued today are given in response to requests for provisional measures filed during the course of the athletes’ appeal arbitration procedures before the CAS,” a CAS press release stated. “The arbitration procedures are still ongoing and the parties are currently exchanging written submissions and the process of appointing the arbitrators who will decide the matters is underway. At this early stage of the proceedings, it is not possible to determine when the final decisions will be issued.”

IBU Suspends Russia’s Glazyrina

On Friday, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) announced the immediate provisional suspension of Russian biathlete Ekaterina Glazyrina as an outcome of the McLaren report investigation. Glazyrina, 29, recently raced at the IBU World Cup in Antholz, Italy, where she placed fifth in the women’s relay. Her best individual result this season was 12th in the World Cup pursuit in Pokljuka, Slovenia. “Following the publication of the McLaren Report – Part II on 9 December, the IBU established a working group to evaluate the Report and study the available documents,” an IBU press release stated. “It initiated specific follow-up actions in order to get more data with regard to the alleged anti-doping rule violations.” After collecting additional information and documentation, the working group decided that “an optional provisional suspension” should be implemented with regards to Glazyrina considering “several samples of the athlete may have contained prohibited substances and doping controls conducted by RUSADA may have been tampered, without limitation…

IBU Congress Rejects 8-Year Ban Proposal, Will Select New 2021 World Champs Host

On Wednesday, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) held what was dubbed an “Extraordinary Congress” in Fieberbrunn, Austria, where congress delegates from 46 IBU member federations voted on the three proposals from the athlete’s letter of January 13, 2017. Those proposals were: Longer bans (up to 8 years) for athletes convicted of anti-doping rule violations; Higher fines (up to 1,000,000 €) for member federations with athletes convicted of anti-doping offenses; Reduction of seasonal start quotas at World Cup, World Championship, and Olympic Winter Games competitions for member federations with one or more athlete anti-doping offenses According to a press release, “The Congress supported the athlete’s initiative for have stronger Anti-Doping Rules and harsher disciplinary sanctions on member federations, duly taking note of the WADA letter of 27th January, 2017. Prior to voting on the eight-year ban proposal, delegates received a WADA-issued letter from January 27, 2017, stating that ‘in order to comply with…

IBU Reverses Course, Calls for Extraordinary Congress to Discuss Doping (Updated)

After announcing on Saturday that no new policies regarding doping violations could be approved until the next Congress, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) faced widespread outcry from athletes. “Martin [Fourcade] walked out about 45 minutes into the meeting, as [IBU President] Besseberg answered [Michal) Slesinger’s question, ‘Do you believe this is an urgent situation?’” U.S. athlete Clare Egan explained in an email. “Besseberg essentially said ‘no,’ and repeated that the next Congress (2018) will deal with it. Once Martin left, others quickly followed. It was not planned.” The IBU Executive Board then met through the night on Saturday, and on Sunday morning came out with a new announcement: an Extraordinary Congress will be held before World Championships to vote on rule changes. The competitions at World Championships begin February 9 in Hochfilzen, Austria, and the Congress seems to be scheduled for the day before. Among the proposals by the athletes are…

IBU Delays Action on Athletes’ ‘Doping Letter’

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) Executive Board met in Antholz, Italy, today to discuss the organization’s ongoing response to the Russian doping scandal. Among the agenda items was a letter signed by 170 top biathletes urging the IBU to consider longer bans for doping offenses, a reduction of World Cup quota spots for countries with multiple offenses, and bigger fines for breaking the rules. The IBU took no direct action on these suggestions. “The proposals from the athletes’ letter, received on January 13th 2017, are appreciated and taken seriously. The proposals are now forwarded to the Legal Committee in order to draft proposals to the Executive Board for future rule amendments to be tabled at the next Congress,” the IBU wrote in a press release. Anders Besseberg: "We must act according to the rules we have today. We can not adopt a new rule every day" #biathlon — Valera Patotski…

The State of Doping in Biathlon Ahead of Saturday’s Executive Board Meeting

On Saturday, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Executive Board will hold a meeting in Antholz, Italy, to discuss their ongoing response to the McLaren report. That report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, contained references to at least 38 biathletes. Of those, several were Olympians; 13 positive doping tests were disclosed which apparently never resulted in suspensions; and seven samples from the 2014 Olympics showed signs of being tampered with. The IBU formed a working group to sift through the evidence and address concerns. To date, however, only two biathletes have been provisionally suspended. They are Iana Romanova and Olga Vilukhina, medalists from Sochi who had since retired – which begs the question of what a provisional suspension even means. “I am sure that all my doping samples are clean and I have nothing to hide,” Romanova said in an interview with Russian news agency TASS. She has not competed since…

WADA Publishes 2017 Prohibited List; Changes to Asthma Rules

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has published its 2017 Prohibited List, to go into effect on January 1. Among the changes from the 2016 Prohibited List is a shift in the language governing the use of salbutamol, an inhaled medication used to treat asthma, and other drugs of its class (called beta-2 agonists). “Dosing parameters of salbutamol were refined to make it clear that the full 24 hour dose should not be administered at one time,” WADA wrote in a guide listing the changes from the 2016 Prohibited List. The new rule keeps the maximum allowable does at 1,600 micrograms over 24 hours, but additionally specifies that only 800 micrograms can be taken in any 12-hour period. Salbutamol is the medication which led to a suspension of Norwegian skier Martin Johnsrud Sundby. Sundby nebulized 15 milligrams — or 15,000 micrograms — of the medication in a five-hour period in Davos, Switzerland, in 2014 and Toblach,…

Sundby Decides Against Doping Appeal

Norwegian cross-country skier Martin Johnsrud Sundby has decided not to appeal a two-month suspension he received for using a high dose of asthma medicine. Sundby’s suspension came from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and he was considering an appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court. It is unusual for sports-related cases which reach the CAS level to be brought into federal courts afterwards. “The important thing for me was to find out if the possibility existed, because I’m not a lawyer and I had no clue,” he told Norway’s NRK broadcaster. He revealed that after consulting with Swiss lawyers, it did not seem like he had a good chance of winning an appeal. Any case he brought to the Swiss Supreme Court would have been based on procedure, not on the facts of the case. Sundby said that he decided against an appeal because he did not wish to drag the process…

Hall, Wood Spearhead ‘Survey for Ethical Sport’ to Present to IOC, FIS

On Monday, a three-question survey called the “Survey for Ethical Sport“, created by Marty Hall and Dave Wood, former head coaches of the Canadian cross-country ski team, went live online with the technical support of national-team skier Julien Locke. The idea behind it, is to “spread the word” and send the results to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Ski Federation (FIS), according to Hall, also a former U.S. national team coach. “We are a group of coaches/athletes that have been directly impacted by cheaters,” the survey states. “We have put together this survey as we believe that everyone’s voice needs to be heard. Sport is in a critical time right now and we are motivated to use our survey findings to make a difference.” “In this whole process if you think about it, do we ever have anything to say, and who’s this all about?” Hall said. “Whether it’s support personnel or people like…

WADA Revises Meldonium Guidelines, Increasing Leniency

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has revised its guidelines for athletes whose urine samples tested positive for the prohibited metabolic modulator meldonium, according to a document posted to the organization’s website on Thursday. The update allows much more leniency for athletes with traces of the drug found in their urine samples until September 30, 2016. It also places the onus on sports federations to determine whether the athletes used the drug before or after it was added to the Prohibited List on January 1. Since then, at least 172 athletes have tested positive for the substance. At that time some, like tennis star Maria Sharapova, did not notice the that the drug was newly classified as banned and continued to use the it. Others claim to have stopped using the drug before January 1, but the substance still showed up in their urine samples. Before this year, little research had been done…