By David Monti
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
(03-Jul) -- In a stunning development, three Russian athletes, two of whom had won European Championships gold medals in 2010 and 2011, were banned today by their federation for doping. Incredibly, one was stripped of a gold medal handed to her when yet another athlete who had finished ahead of her had been previously disqualified for doping.
The athletes, middle distance runners Yevgeniya Zinurova and Svetlana Klyuka, and marathoner Nailya Yulamanova, were convicted of doping through the use of the biological passport program which, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency, "is based on the monitoring of selected biological variables which indirectly reveal the effects of doping." As such, athletes do not have to be caught with banned substances in their systems, but rather can be convicted based on variations in blood and other values which can only be explained by doping.
Zinurova, 29, had won the 2011 European Indoor Championships 800m title in Paris, but was stripped of that title because her results will be deleted back to March 6, 2010. That elevates Britain's Jenny Meadows to the gold medal position, Russia's Yulia Rusanova to silver, and France's Linda Marguet to bronze. Zinurova will be banned through Sept. 13, 2013.
Yulamanova, 31, had originally finished second at the European Championships marathon in Barcelona in 2010, but was elevated to the gold medal position after Lithuania's Zivile Balciunaite was later disqualified for doping. Russian officials said that Yulmanova's results have been deleted back through August 20, 2009, thus stripping her of that medal. Italy's Anna Incerti now becomes the gold medalist, Ukraine's Tetyana Filonyuk now has the silver, and Sweden's Isabellah Andersson the bronze. Yulamanova, who is banned through February 10, 2014, also loses her eighth place finish at the 2009 IAAF World Championships marathon, her 9th place finish at the 2010 Boston Marathon, her victory at the 2010 Shanghai Marathon, and her fifth place finish at the 2011 Amsterdam Marathon.
Klyuka, 33, who finished fourth in the Beijing Olympics at 800m and has a career best time of 1:56.64, has had her results deleted back through August 15, 2009, and is banned for two years through February 10, 2014. According to the Tilastopaja Oy statistics website, her preliminary and semi-final performances at the 2009 IAAF World Championships will be stricken, as will her second place finish at the 2010 Russian championships and eighth place finish at the 2010 European Championships.
Athletes, like marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, have been calling for more extensive testing, including the use of the biological passport, for years. Radcliffe often ran with a red ribbon pinned to her uniform to signify her support for blood testing.
"It is great that the blood passport scheme is starting to have effect and that hopefully there are more to come," said Radcliffe in an e-mail message sent to Race Results Weekly. "The minority of cheating athletes will realise that the methods of detection and the deterrents will continue to improve in our efforts to clean up the sport we love."
More on Russians in 2012