Russian walker to lose Olympic gold medal after court ruling


LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A Russian athlete stands to lose his gold medal from the 2012 London Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday rejected the selective doping punishments imposed by Russian authorities in six cases.

The court ruled that the Russian anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, had wrongly imposed bans which were timed in a way that meant the six athletes’ results were not annulled and allowed them to keep major titles.

The decision means that Sergei Kirdyapkin is set to lose his Olympic gold medal in the 50-kilometer walk. The medal stands to go to Australia’s Jared Tallent, subject to ratification by track and field’s governing body and the International Olympic Committee.

“History has been rewritten,” Tallent said on Twitter. “I am Olympic champion.”

China’s Si Tianfeng would move up to silver, with bronze for Ireland’s Rob Heffernan.

The six cases were based on the biological passport system, which tracks unusual blood values for signs of doping.

RUSADA had argued that its suspensions applied only to times when the athletes’ blood values were extreme, but the IAAF appealed, saying that the timing of the bans was “selective.”

In Kirdyapkin’s case, RUSADA had allowed him a window of four months in 2012 which meant he kept an Olympic gold medal which he would otherwise have lost.

CAS, however, ruled that all of Kirdkyapkin’s results from August 20, 2009, to Oct. 15, 2012, were now disqualified. That covers the London Olympics, which took place in July-August, 2012.

Also affected by the CAS ruling is Olga Kaniskina, who stands to lose her silver medal in the 20K walk from the London Olympics. China’s Qiejang Shenjie would move up to silver.

Russia is also set to lose two gold medals from the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea — Yulia Zaripova in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and Sergei Bakulin in the 50K walk. Zaripova’s gold would go to Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi; Bakulin’s medal to fellow Russian Denis Nizhegorodov.

CAS said reallocation of medals is up to the International Association of Athletics Federations.

CAS also imposed disqualification on walkers Valery Borchin and Vladimir Kanaikin.

RUSADA was suspended from conducting any testing in November 2015 after a World Anti-Doping Agency commission accused it of covering up doping among leading Russian athletes.

Of the six athletes in the case, four have since become eligible to compete again, and some say they want to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August. However, Russia remains suspended from all international track and field, including the Olympics, after the WADA commission’s report detailed state-sponsored, systematic drug use. Doping in race-walking is a particular concern for the IAAF, after more than 30 cases in Russia in recent years.

The six cases also have links to previous irregularities at the IAAF. The WADA commission said that the processing of the cases was deliberately delayed in 2013 by the then-head of the IAAF anti-doping department, Gabriel Dolle, with the apparent intent of allowing athletes to compete at the 2013 world championships in Moscow when they should have been suspended.

In the end, none of the six raced at the championships after the IAAF’s then-legal counsel threatened to resign if they were allowed to compete. Dolle was banned for five years in January by the IAAF, while the then-head of the Russian track federation, Valentin Balakhnichev, received a life ban in connection with a separate extortion case.

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