Two more Russian athletes were stripped of the Olympic medals in the 2014 Sochi Games on Wednesday, leaving the United States as the country with the most awards.
Four Russians, all skeleton racers, were banned by the International Olympic Committee for doping, including men’s gold medallist Alexander Tretyakov and women’s bronze medallist Elena Nikitina.
Russia, which completed the matches on peak of the medals table with 13 gold and 33 overall, has been stripped of six championships based on signs of a state-sponsored doping program in Sochi, such as samples being swapped from the lab. Two of the six medals were gold.
The Russians still lead the table with 11 gold, tied with Norway, but have fallen behind the USA in overall medals. The Americans, who won nine gold medals, have 28 overall, one more than Russia’s present total of 27. Norway has 26 complete chords.
If the IOC decides to update athletes that finished behind the prohibited Russians, the table would change.
Two other Russian girls who didn’t win awards, Maria Orlova and Olga Potylitsina, were banned Wednesday.
Russian officials said all four prohibited athletes will file appeals.
“We’re completely sure of the innocence of our athletes and will stand up for their faith,” the Russian Bobsled Federation, which governs skeleton, said in a statement.
The previous six bans were in cross-country ski. The cases against the Russians rest on evidence gathered by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren, such as testimony from the former manager of Russia’s anti-doping labs in Moscow and Sochi.
Without positive doping tests, the IOC disciplinary panel utilized signs of coverups and tampering of sample bottles gathered annually by McLaren’s team.
The IOC will pick on Dec. 5 if Russia can compete in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
The ban for Tretyakov puts Latvia in line for its first Winter Olympic gold medal. If the IOC officially reallocates the awards, Martins Dukurs will be upgraded to gold. It would also imply silver to Matthew Antoine of the USA and bronze for Dukurs’ brother, Tomass.
In the women’s event, Nikitina’s bronze goes to American slider Katie Uhlaender, who initially missed the podium by 0.04 seconds.
The IOC sanctions disqualify the four Russian skeleton racers in the Sochi Olympics and prohibit them from all future Olympics.
Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov said more sanctions are possible.
“I believe we can expect the exact choices for the bobsledders and the female baseball players,” Zhukov said. “The rulings are the same.”
Russia won two gold medals in men’s bobsled in the 2014 Olympics, but there’s been no official confirmation that the IOC is exploring. The Russian women’s hockey team did not win a medal.
The Russian government has repeatedly denied any involvement in doping or some other coverups and states its athletes are being unfairly targeted. President Vladimir Putin has said the Olympic doping cases are part of an American bid to discredit his administration ahead of presidential elections in March.
Courtesy: The Globe And Mail