Russia's Chicherova aims to defend reputation

MOSCOW • Russia's Olympic Committee (ROC) said on Tuesday that 14 of its athletes in the 2008 Beijing Olympics had tested positive for doping in new analysis of their samples given during the Games.

The announcement came a week after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that 31 athletes from 12 countries had failed doping tests after new analysis of samples taken from the Beijing Games.

The ROC said that the names of the athletes, according to the disciplinary rules, would not be made public until a second set of control samples had also been tested.

Russia's Match TV channel reported the names of the athletes as including 10 Olympic medallists.

One, Yulia Chermoshanskaya, won gold as part of the 4x100m relay team, while four won silver.

Among those also listed are reigning Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova, who is likely to compete in the Rio Olympics in August if Russia takes part.

"For me it's the most complete shock. I can't explain how it could have happened," said Chicherova. "I was always sure what supplements and medicines I was using. I hope I can defend my name as clean."

The head of the ROC's legal department, Anna Brilliantova, was quoted as saying that the second "B" samples of all the athletes under suspicion will be checked in Switzerland on May 31 and June 1.

The Russian athletics federation said in a statement on Tuesday that it would bar any athlete found to have used doping in previous years from competing at Rio.

"Any potential participant in the Olympic Games caught using doping in previous years cannot be a member of Russia's national team at Rio," the federation said.

It said it had submitted this amendment to its selection criteria last week "so that clean athletes can take part in the 2016 Olympic Games".

Next month, the world athletics governing body will decide whether to lift Russia's provisional suspension from Rio over evidence of state-sponsoring doping in Russian athletics.

Meanwhile, Russia is to bring in legislation that will mean individuals found guilty of doping are punished under the country's criminal code, according to Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.

He declined to give a time frame for the law to be implemented or details of the expected punishments.

The TASS news agency said that, depending on the offence, those found breaking the law could be fined a maximum of three million roubles (S$63,000) or jailed for up to five years.

"We need to create an anti-doping system which everyone has faith in, in order to not return to Sochi (2014), Beijing or London (2012)," said Mutko.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline 'Russia's Chicherova aims to defend reputation'. Print Edition | Subscribe