Olympic champ Zaripova faces losing gold in doping ban
MOSCOW (AP) In the latest of a slew of Russian doping cases, Yulia Zaripova faces being stripped of her gold medal in the 3,000 steeplechase from the 2012 London Olympics after being banned for a drug violation.
The Russian anti-doping agency banned Zaripova on Friday for two years and six months. The suspension was backdated from July 2013, which leaves her eligible to compete in next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The agency said Zaripova’s results would be annulled for parts of 2011 and 2012, dates which include her Olympic victory but not her world championship gold medal in 2011.
Also banned Friday was Olympic heptathlon bronze medalist Tatyana Chernova.
Shortly after the new suspensions were announced, Russian athletics federation president Valentin Balakhnichev was quoted by Russian media as saying he could submit his resignation at a board meeting on Feb. 17.
”I will take a decision on my own resignation or another form of suspension from duties,” he said.
The Russian anti-doping agency’s chief executive, Ramil Khabriev, said in a statement that Zaripova’s biological passport data indicated ”the use of a banned method” for replicating high-altitude conditions. He did not elaborate.
If Zaripova is stripped of her London victory, a decision that lies with the IAAF and IOC, the gold medal could go to original second-place finisher Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia. Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia won the bronze.
Zaripova’s gold would become the fourth London Olympic medal to be reallocated and the second gold after that of Belarusian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk.
The Russian agency, known by the acronym Rusada, said Chernova had tested positive for the banned steroid oralturinabol when a sample from the 2009 world championships was retested.
Chernova was given a two-year ban backdated to 2013, with results annulled between August 2009 and August 2011. She keeps her 2011 world title.
Of the 22 Russians who originally won athletics medals at the 2012 Olympics, six have since been banned for doping. One Olympic medal, a silver won by discus thrower Darya Pishchalnikova, was reallocated.
The Zaripova and Chernova cases come 10 days after doping bans were imposed on five Russian race-walkers, including three Olympic champions.
The walkers’ bans included periods of annulled results which critics alleged may have been selected by Russian officials to preserve Olympic medals. The Australian athletics federation, whose race-walker Jared Tallent won silver behind a Russian athlete who has since been banned, is pushing for an appeal.
Zaripova’s ban may also prove contentious. She had results annulled from June 20 to August 20, 2011, a period ending seven days before the start of competition in the 3,000 steeplechase at the 2011 world championships. That means Zaripova’s gold medal in that event is not affected.
Two more Russians, 800-meter gold medal winner Maria Savinova and bronze medalist Ekaterina Poistogova, were featured in a German TV documentary last month which said they were recorded admitting to taking banned substances.
The World Anti-Doping Agency and the IAAF have opened investigations into the accusations made by the ARD program, including claims that Russian athletics bosses oversaw systematic doping and Rusada officials covered up positive tests.
Savinova and Poistogova have not been suspended and remain free to compete.