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Recent Russian doping controversies at the Olympics


The building of the Russian Olympic Committee is seen through a gate adorned with the Olympic rings, in Moscow December 6, 2017. Doping and other controversies involving Russian athletes have played a significant role in the Games for more than a decade. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)


The doping case of 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva dominated conversation at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Doping and other controversies involving Russian athletes have played a significant role in recent Olympics. Here is a timeline of how disputes involving the country have affected the Olympics over the past decade and a half:


At the last Olympics in the Chinese capital, Russia found themselves third in the medal table behind China and the United States, but that success was later revealed to have been built on performance-enhancing drugs.

When the Winter Olympics in Russia six years later were found to be doping-tainted, the International Olympic Committee rechecked samples from Beijing using more modern steroid detection technology. Nineteen Russian athletes were ultimately disqualified, including 14 who won medals.

The Beijing Olympics took place alongside a war between Russia and Georgia. Each country’s shooting medalists Natalia Paderina and Nino Salukvadze made a gesture for peace as they embraced on the podium.


In 2007, Russia secured the hosting rights for the 2014 Olympics. The upcoming Winter Games in Vancouver were expected to show Russia’s competitiveness.

It was a disaster.

Russia has only won three gold medals. As the director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory – and future whistleblower – Grigory Rodchenkov wrote in his 2020 autobiography, “it became clear that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin had much higher expectations for Sochi.”


Even before the start of the London Olympics, Russia was trying to undermine them.

Rodchenkov was invited to tour the doping lab facilities outside London and took careful notes of the equipment they used. Steroid use was even higher than in Beijing four years earlier, with nearly 50 doping cases in the Russian team, an all-time high for an Olympics.

Athletics and weightlifting are among the most affected sports.


It was the biggest for Russia, which topped the medal table at home and spent tens of billions of dollars transforming a slice of the subtropical Black Sea coast.

Rodchenkov testified that he spent the Olympics smuggling samples contaminated with steroids through a hole in the wall of the Sochi laboratory with the help of a security services officer, replacing them with clean urine collected months earlier.

The athletes, he said, had used a cocktail known as “Duchess” of different steroids dissolved in whiskey for men and vermouth for women. After fleeing to the United States in November 2015, he detailed years of doping and a cover-up in dozens of sports.

Among those who were eventually banned was two-time bobsleigh champion Alexander Zubkov, who carried the Russian flag at the opening ceremony.


As Russian athletes flew to Brazil, their country was under sanctions from the United States and the European Union due to the conflict in Ukraine, which began just after the Sochi Olympics.

He also disagreed with the World Anti-Doping Agency, which demanded a blanket ban on the Russian team after Rodchenkov went public with his allegations in May 2016. The International Olympic Committee refused to go that far, which sparked criticism. Russia – but it has allowed individual sports to impose their own controls and restrictions.

Russia was only allowed one competitor in athletics, where hidden camera footage of an athlete had exposed teammates discussing their steroid use.

Russia was entirely banned from the Paralympic Games the same year.


Russia was officially barred from the Olympics for the first time after the IOC finally completed its own long-running doping investigation in Sochi. In its place came the team of Olympic athletes from Russia without the flag and the Russian anthem.

That didn’t stop the men’s hockey team from screaming the Russian anthem at the gold medal ceremony, one of only two events the Russians have won.

A failed legal challenge to overturn the IOC’s athlete vetting system has dominated the run-up to the Olympics, and there was another legal battle when curler Alexander Krushelnitsky failed a doping test. He lost a bronze medal and was suspended for four years.


Goodbye, OAR, hello, ROC.

The new acronym, short for Russian Olympic Committee, came amid new restrictions after WADA discovered data from the Moscow lab had been tampered with to prevent it from solving old doping cases.

The 2018 vetting system was swept away by a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling that also halved Russia’s four-year sentence, so there was a nearly full squad in Tokyo when the Olympics finally took place in 2021 after a year-long delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The ROC won 71 medals and there was a doping ban for triathlete Igor Polyansky.


Competing again as ROC, all seemed to be going well for the Russian team until 15-year-old figure skater Kamila Valieva was revealed to have tested positive for the banned heart drug trimetazidine in a sample from before. the Olympics.

She was allowed to continue skating, in part because her young age made her a “protected person” in sports law, but she fell twice in the free skate and missed the podium finishing in fourth place. .

His coach’s coldly critical reaction to Valieva’s obvious distress drew rare criticism from a team official from IOC President Thomas Bach.


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