Tags: russian | dopers | olympic medals

Russian Dopers Ordered to Return Olympic Medals, Some Say No

Image: Russian Dopers Ordered to Return Olympic Medals, Some Say No
Russia's gold medal winner Gulnara Galkina-Samitova, left, and bronze medal winner Ekaterina Volkova bite their medals after the women's 3000-meter steeplechase at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Several Russian athletes, including six medal winners, were retroactively disqualified from the 2008 Beijing Olympics on Oct. 26, 2016 after failing retests of their doping samples. (AP)

Friday, 11 Aug 2017 01:17 PM

The silver medals Russian sprinter Tatyana Firova won at the Beijing and London Olympics are stored in a safe in her apartment near Moscow in defiance of the International Olympic Committee, which has wanted them back for months.

Firova is one of six athletes who told Reuters they had yet to return Olympic medals and diplomas from the Beijing and London Games that were revoked over the last year after their samples, or those of relay teammates, tested positive for banned substances.

Two of these athletes said they had no intention of returning them, while three others said they would do so but were unclear how to proceed, had logistical constraints or were awaiting the outcome of an appeal. Another athlete was undecided.

"I don't want to return my medals because I think no one would have deserved them more," said Firova, who was stripped of her Beijing silver medal in the 4x400-metre relay after banned substances, including the anabolic steroid turinabol, were found in her samples.

Russia's athletics federation told Reuters that three stripped Olympic medals and one diploma had been returned, and that several appeals were still being heard. In February, it said 23 medals needed to be handed back.

The federation is already suspended over a 2015 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that exposed systematic state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics. It remains unclear if not returning medals could lead to additional disciplinary measures or stop Russian athletes going to the Olympics.

It is also unclear whether the International Olympic Committee can compel athletes to return medals.

"They are not a police force," Olympic historian Bill Mallon said of the IOC.

"I think all they'll end up doing is reissuing the medals to the other people and saying, 'well, that person has a medal they don't deserve'."

The fact many medals have not been returned points to a broader issue with the culture of Russian sport.

While Russia has pledged to cooperate with global sports bodies over its anti-doping programme, it has never acknowledged state support for doping. Many in Russian sport, from officials to athletes and coaches, do not believe there was wrongdoing, and say their country is being unfairly targeted.

In a report last week, an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) task force monitoring reforms at the Russian federation said it had yet to demonstrate "that it has established a strong anti-doping culture within its sport, or that it has created an open environment that encourages whistleblowing".

The IOC did not respond to Reuters questions about what it could do if athletes refuse to return medals, saying it had already received a number of medals and was in contact with the relevant Olympic committees about the issue.

The Russian Olympic Committee, responsible for returning the medals to the IOC, did not reply to a request for comment.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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The silver medals Russian sprinter Tatyana Firova won at the Beijing and London Olympics are stored in a safe in her apartment near Moscow in defiance of the International Olympic Committee, which has wanted them back for months.
russian, dopers, olympic medals
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2017-17-11
Friday, 11 Aug 2017 01:17 PM
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