Wild Rumpus Sports
 

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.

This did not sit well with the athletes.

We do not accept a half-year wait until Congress might do something,” Ole Einar Bjørndalen, the winningest biathlete of all time, told Norway’s TV2. “We want a clean World Championships in a few weeks. So we must have a reaction from the IBU now.”

The athletes sent the International Biathlon Union a very clear message, but no action was taken,” Darya Domracheva – the Belarusian Olympic triple gold medalist, IBU athlete representative, and Bjørndalen’s wife – told Russian media. “There was no action taken, and the athletes were left somewhat disappointed. Perhaps the International Biathlon Union still will take some steps. But if I have to wait another year and a half until the next Congress, I think we, the athletes, will get together and think about what actions we will take on our side.”

But some had perhaps been expecting it.

“I believe the dumbest thing [the IBU could do] would be to put us off and say ‘we will wait and see, we can’t decide anything yet, this takes some time’,” current World Cup leader Laura Dahlmeier told ZDF last week.

The press release did note that an Extraordinary Congress could be convened, if it was deemed necessary before the next regularly scheduled Congress in 2018.

The IBU did take several actions, as noted in the press release:

  • Seven new investigations will be opened into athletes mentioned in the McLaren report. It is not clear whether these athletes are suspended while the investigations take place. IBU President Anders Besseberg apparently demurred when specifically asked this question by a journalist at his press conference, saying only that there were seven athletes and the names were not important. In addition, there’s no information about how the seven were chosen. FasterSkier’s deep dive into the McLaren report evidence found discussion of 13 positive doping tests by 11 athletes, none of whom were Vilukhina or Romanova.
  • There will be no investigation into 22 other athletes mentioned in the McLaren report: “There is no sufficient evidence for the other athletes for the time being,” the press release states. As mentioned above, this does not correspond with the number of biathletes specifically mentioned in the McLaren report evidence.
  • All Russian athletes competing at any IBU event will be added to the Registered Testing Pool for drug testing.
  • The IBU is opening a formal investigation into the Russian Biathlon Union, specifically to determine whether they had any knowledge of doping by the seven athletes who are under investigation. This has a deadline of February 9th; the Executive Board will meet again before the beginning of 2017 World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria.
  • The IBU will request to the International Olympic Committee that all anti-doping samples from the 2014 Olympics belonging to athletes who are still competing, be opened and re-tested.

“Most importantly, our athletes will continue to compete in World Cup event,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS. “The Russian Biathlon Union and anti-doping services have made great effort to make Russian biathlon clean of doping and bring it in line with international standards.”

“It’s OK,” Russian Biathlon Union President Aleksandr Kravtsov separately told the TASS news agency. “There is no talking about Russian biathlon team’s suspension and the team will go on with the competitions.”

-Chelsea Little

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…

IOC Backtracks on Part of IAAF Decision; No Russian ‘Neutral’ Athletes in Rio

“We have come to a unanimous declaration,” International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday after an Olympic Summit which convened heads of international federations in the Olympic movement. “All the stakeholders have come to the unanimous declaration … the Summit confirmed their respect and approval and support for the decision having been taken by IAAF last Friday.” That decision, by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), would have nearly completely barred Russian track and field athletes from competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Russian athletics have been embroiled in a doping scandal. The international federation decided that only those athletes which could individually prove — “clearly and convincingly” — that they had not doped, for instance because they were living outside of Russia and had been repeatedly tested by an accredited and respected antidoping agency, could compete. And notably, the IAAF…

New Documentary Alleges Russian Interference with FIS, IBU Anti-Doping Efforts (Updated)

A new documentary by German journalist Hajo Seppelt aired on ARD last night, alleging further involvement of Russian officials in hampering anti-doping efforts. While one of the biggest news items was that Russian Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko was personally implicated in hiding a positive doping test by a soccer player, nordic sports were directly mentioned for one of the first times in Seppelt’s work. Specifically, RUSADA allegedly warned head coaches and athletes ahead of doping controls ordered by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the International Biathlon Union (IBU). FasterSkier has reached out to the federations for comment. The documentary is available here in German and here in English.

Russian Cross-Country Skier Tests Positive for Meldonium

A Russian cross-country skier who placed in the top 30 at Russian nationals last weekend, Kirill Vitsjuzjanin, has tested positive for the banned substance meldonium. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited use of the drug, a metabolic modulator, starting Jan. 1, 2016. Vitsjuzjanin, 23, apparently took meldonium last September based on a prescription from his doctor, Langrenn reports. His father and trainer Petr Vitsjuzjanin said that his son used the substance last year, before it was banned. Earlier this year, he passed a doping test but a sample taken in March was found positive for the substance. “I am shocked,” his father said. “The situation is embarrassing for me.” Vitsjuzjanin has never competed in a World Cup, but placed 22nd and 27th at Russian nationals last weekend in Tyumen. Several Russian athletes have also tested positive for the banned substance, including tennis star Maria Sharapova and skate printer Pavel Kulizjnikov. Two Ukrainian biathletes have open cases with…