Drug cheats haven’t returned medals, admits Russian Olympic committee

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Anna Chicherova is said to be the last Russian to have returned a medal over a year ago. Photo: Grzegorz Jereczek via Flickr

Russian officials say some athletes convicted of doping offences haven’t given back their medals following requests by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Alexander Brilliantyova from the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) told the nation’s state news agency TASS that no athlete has returned a medal in 2018.

This includes 11 competitors asked to do so following the testing of samples from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

High jumper Anna Chicherova (below, right), who was stripped of her Beijing 2008 bronze last October, is said to be the last to have co-operated.

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Some athletes have previously insisted on keeping medals while they appeal, or even because the Ministry of Sport didn’t agree with the decision and told them to do so.

It comes as British former javelin thrower Goldie Sayers was told her fourth place from Beijing has officially been upgraded following the disqualification of Russia’s Mariya Abakumova – news originally announced after the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected an appeal in July.

Earlier this year, the International Olympic Committee also agreed on a system for reallocating medals. It lists several options for handing them out, including at an international federation event, at the IOC headquarters in Switzerland, or in a private ceremony. 

A presentation must happen within a year of an official announcement, but can otherwise take place at the next Olympic Games.

Before this can happen, at least one sample from the athletes who stand to benefit must be retested and confirmed as clean. If no sample is available, the athlete can be given the benefit of the doubt.

There has been a precedent for not reallocating medals where those who would be bumped up have been accused themselves. This includes the women’s 100m final at the Sydney 2000 games.

In August, the IOC said it would give medals to two Russian athletes who had previously served bans. They include Tatyana Tomashova who was banned for two years in 2008.

Tomashova is set to be awarded a medal from London 2012 because a retested sample from that year came back negative. But to this day, the official results of the 2012 women’s 1500m are said to be “not final” as further testing continues.

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More than a quarter of the 101 athletes with positive retests from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics are Russians and the country hasn’t been allowed to compete in athletics since 2015.

This week, officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have visited a Moscow laboratory, in the hope of obtaining data from samples there.

Access to the facility was one of two conditions for Russia’s anti-doping body (RUSADA) being reinstated. The other was the nation accepting responsibility for covering up doping.

In the meantime, the IAAF has invited Russian competitors to apply for neutral athlete status in 2019. The governing body approved 73 and rejected 68 applications last year. Six athletes had their clean status revoked.

If one relay runner is found to have taken performance-enhancing drugs, the whole team is disqualified and must return their medals. Usain Bolt gave back his 4x100m gold from Beijing after Nesta Carter tested positive, thereby annulling his ‘treble treble’ of Olympic titles.

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