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Legkov Speaks Out: ‘My Medal is Clean’

Russia’s Alexander Legkov (3) winning the 50 k freestyle mass start at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, ahead of his teammates Maxim Vylegzhanin (not shown) and Ilya Chernousov (r). Last week, the IOC ruled that Legkov violated anti-doping rules in Sochi and was to return his medals (including a relay silver) and serve a lifetime ban from future Olympics.

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 said nothing to media, my fans and all the other athletes because I was shocked – not only because of the decision on the matter, but also because of the circumstances. I do not want to apologize and I do not want to defend myself, but explain.”

In his nearly 800-word statement, Legkov went on to describe the mutual respect he established with competitors over the years, the kind of respect that “forbids you from cheating,” he wrote.

He claimed to have tested clean more than 150 times “in recent years”, 19 of which were in the months leading up to the Sochi Olympics while training with his Swiss and German coaches in Europe.

“In the months before Sochi, the time when the IOC accused me of having prepared myself with the so-called ‘cocktail’, I remained without interruption in Europe, not in Russia, and was tested 19 times again closely, in Lausanne, Cologne and Dresden,” Legkov wrote. “All substances from which the so-called ‘cocktail’ was developed are known. It was not an extraordinary designer drug. The substances were part of the standard test routine. If I had tried to use the cocktail, I would have been discovered.”

In its decision, the IOC stated that Legkov and his teammate Evgeniy Belov violated Article 2 of the anti-doping rules, but Legkov (and his lawyer) have argued that the IOC has not come up with any basis or evidence to support that.

“Until today, I or my lawyer has not been presented with a testimony in which a person claims that she or he would have offered me to take doping or claims that he or she had taken clean urine from me in an irregular procedure. Not even Prof McLaren claimed this from a single athlete,” he stated, referencing the colossal McClaren report from which the IOC’s ruling stemmed.

Legkov also posed a question to his peers: “I want to ask myself, my teammates, my opponents and all the other athletes: if this does not prove anything and does not protect us from a diffuse suspicion, why do we do this? We are all forced to submit to a sanction procedure from which none of us can be sure that it is fair and free of other interests. Every athlete no matter of which nation can come in the same situation.

“The only thing what I want is to be treated fairly, to have independent arbitrators within a fair procedure ruled by law,” he continued. “Either at Court of Arbitration for Sport, or at Swiss Federal Court or the European High Court. Instead, they sanctioned me.”

“I am Alexander Gennadjewitsch Legkov, Cross Country Skier, Winner of the Gold Medal in 50km mass start at Olympic Games 2014 in Sochi and my medal is clean,” he concluded. “I stand upright and fight.”

Last week, the Russian ski federation stated it would appeal the IOC decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The IOC has yet to decide whether it will allow Russian athletes to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, but plans to do so at its executive board meeting next month.

It took me a long time to find words to describe what I feel. 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 said nothing to media, my fans and all the other athletes because I was shocked – not only because of the decision on the matter, but also because of the circumstances. I do not want to apologize and I do not want to defend myself, but explain. For 20 years, I have been arranging all of this to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Every athlete has this dream. We all, my opponents from all over the world and I, we worked hard every day. Year after year we met. We have measured ourselves in many competitions and in many training camps during the year. I know what you've done and you know what I've done. I was happy that I had your respect and you have my respect. This respect forbids you from cheating. In recent years I have been tested more than 150 times clean. Not tested in Moscow or Sochi because I was abroad, but in Cologne, Lausanne and Dresden. 2013 I won the Tour de Ski and was tested clean. On 20 March 2013 I won the 50km mass start race in Oslo and we had the same finish there as in Sochi 2014 and I was then tested clean in Europe. I know and my opponents know that I can win a clean race, and I know that they can win a clean race. Since 2011, I have been preparing myself with a team of coaches from Switzerland and Germany. I am very grateful that they supported me and still trust me. Only with their support could I reach my goals. The years before 2014 I spent most of a year with you in Switzerland and in Europe. In Moscow, where my home is, I only spent a short time on visits. All my opponents and teammates know that. In the months before Sochi, the time when the IOC accused me of having prepared myself with the so-called "cocktail", I remained without interruption in Europe, not in Russia, and was tested 19 times again closely, in Lausanne, Cologne and Dresden. All substances from which the so-called "cocktail" was developed are known. It was not an extraordinary 👇

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