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FIS Lifts Provisional Suspensions for Eight Russians

In a press release on Thursday, the International Ski Federation (FIS) declared that it has lifted the provisional suspensions for eight Russian athletes in accordance with the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) decision to overturn those athletes’ doping bans.

That means that Evgeniy Belov, Alexander Bessmertnykh, Nikita Kriukov, Alexander Legkov, Natalia Matveeva, Alexey Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova, and Maxim Vylegzhanin are cleared to compete in FIS-sanctioned races, including World Cups.

“The International Ski Federation (FIS) fully respects the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decisions announced today,” the release stated. “The decisions upheld the sanctions of 11 athletes in relation to anti-doping rule violations which include three Russian cross-country skiers (Julia Ivanova, Yulia Chekaleva and Anastasia Dotsenko), while declaring that the other 28 athlete’s cases did not meet the threshold for the necessary level of evidence. These include cross-country skiers Evgeniy Belov, Alexander Bessmertnykh, Nikita Kriukov, Alexander Legkov, Natalia Matveeva, Alexey Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova, and Maxim Vylegzhanin.

“FIS will work together with all stakeholders to analyse the reasoned decisions very carefully once they are available,” it continued.

These athletes will not be at the upcoming Olympics, which open next week in PyeongChang.

“Regarding the participation of athletes from Russia at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the FIS refers to the statement of the IOC that the decision of the Executive Board (EB) of 5 December 2017 remains in place,” the release noted. “This states that since the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is suspended, Russian athletes can participate in PyeongChang only on invitation of the IOC. The IOC has stated that, ‘The result of the CAS decision does not mean that athletes from the group of 28 will be invited to the Games. Not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation.’ “

Matveeva, Kriukov, and Bessmertnykh DQ’ed from Sochi by IOC for Doping

Russian cross-country skiers Natalia Matveeva, Nikita Kriukov, and Alexander Bessmertnykh have been sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for doping violations at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. All three athletes have been competing this season, as they were not provisionally suspended by the International Ski Federation (FIS) at any point in the years-long investigation of systematic doping by Russia before and after the 2014 Olympics. Most recently, Bessmertnykh had the second-fastest classic pursuit time at the Toblach World Cup, finishing fourth on the weekend. 2010 Olympic sprint gold medalist Kriukov finished third in an early-season FIS race in Gällivare, Sweden, but hasn’t had any top results on the World Cup this season. The same weekend, Matveeva placed second behind American skier Sophie Caldwell in an Alpen Cup sprint in Austria; she also has two top-15 World Cup sprint finishes this season. Always fun to stand on the podium,…

On Eve of World Cup Opener, FIS Doping Panel Releases Statement

On Thursday, the International Ski Federation (FIS) Doping Panel released the following statement regarding the cases of the six Russian skiers sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee earlier this month. As it stands, the six athletes are able to compete in FIS-sanctioned races (but not the Olympics, which is the IOC’s jurisdiction). The FIS World Cup begins this Friday with the Ruka Triple mini tour in Kuusamo, Finland. Below is the full press release: “The IOC Disciplinary Commission recently issued its decisions (operative part) in the cases against Cross-Country skiers Alexander Legkov, Evgeniy Belov, Julia Ivanova, Evgenia Shapovalova, Alexey Petukhov and Maxim Vylegzhanin on 1 and 9 November. The commission has sanctioned them with disqualification from the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and non-eligibility for future editions of the Games. The IOC’s jurisdiction is restricted to the Olympic Games and in its decision the IOC Disciplinary Commission has mandated FIS “to modify…

Legkov Speaks Out: ‘My Medal is Clean’

Alexander Legkov went public yesterday, slightly less than a week after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled that he had doped at the 2014 Olympics, thus voiding his results there (including two medals) and banning him from any Olympics moving forward. On his Instagram page, several paragraphs of text (in English) accompanied a photo of Legkov, a Russian cross-country skier, holding his individual gold and relay silver medal from Sochi. Similar text appeared on his lawyers’ website, titled “Personal Statement by Alexander Legkov on the Decision of the IOC”. “It took me a long time to find words to describe what I feel,” Legkov, 34, began. “A few days ago, the IOC Oswald Disciplinary Commission decided to take away my medals, which I had won in Sochi 2014, and to impose on me and my teammate Evgeniy Belov a lifelong ban from the Olympic Games. The last few days I…

WADA Dismisses Cases of 95 Russian Athletes

Earlier this week, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) dismissed the cases of 95 out of the first 96 Russian athletes it investigated as a result of the McLaren report, citing “insufficient evidence” of their alleged doping at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The New York Times broke the news on Tuesday, Sept. 12, and published an excerpt from a WADA internal report that circulated among its executives regarding the Russian doping scandal. Since early May, WADA claims to have reviewed all of the evidence and names that stemmed the McLaren report, starting with the first 96 athletes implicated from nine different sports. As a result, WADA decided to clear all but one of the athletes of anti-doping rule violations (ADRV), stating that the International Federations that govern each sport “determined there was insufficient evidence to support the assertion of an ADRV against these 95 athletes.” The report did not…

Norwegian Student Seeks ‘Athlete Transgression’ Survey Participants

A Norwegian postgraduate student is seeking participants for a short survey on personal opinions of Norwegian skier Therese Johaug and Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova and their anti-doping violations (Johaug tested positive for clostebol last fall and is serving a 13-month suspension, which is still under review by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Sharapova tested positive for meldonium in January 2016 and served a 15-month suspension.) The student is writing his master thesis on the topic of athlete transgression. “My project revolves around the similar doping cases of cross-country skier Therese Johaug and tennis player Maria Sharapova,” he explains. “More specifically about fans’ attitude towards the athletes and their sponsors after the scandal was made public. … It is hoped that the project could provide useful information for sport managers, sponsors and academics about the impact of scandals related to endorsed athletes.” The survey includes 22 questions and takes approximately five minutes. https://coventry.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/athlete-transgression

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…

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…