Russia, are you serious? Women's 1500 Meter results

If you know me well then you would know that I hate being skeptical of others, especially when there is no proof of wrong doing. However today I could not keep my mind from wondering with results I saw on the IAAF World List. 

I was browsing around to see what marks were looking like around the world and when I pulled up the women's 1500 I saw an overwhelming number of Russian women towards the top....more specifically 8 in the top 13. All the times ranged between 3:59 and 4:02 while six of those times were in the same race held in Moscow on June 13, 2012. Before this race there had only been nine women around the world to run under 4:04. One of the women, Elena Soboleva, ran consecutive races of 4:00 and 4:01 within four days at Moscow (results) and Zhukovskiy (results), respectively.

Screenshot of current IAAF list:

Let's take a look at the eight athletes that rocked such high caliber times over the four day span. Four of the athletes set PRs over more than six seconds. One athlete, Ekaterina Poyistogova, had no results from prior to 2012 (with the expection of an indoor 600m in Dec of 2011) but runs 4:00...literally out of no where (See update below). Two athletes, Elena Soboleva and Tatyana Tomashova, served over 2.5 year bans for doping incidents before the 2008 Olympic Games. The IAAF rules around the ban stated that there was "fraudulent substitution of urine which is both a prohibited method and also a form of tampering with the doping control process" (article here | updated article months after). Tomashova was the 2003 and 2005 World 1500m champ along with the 1500m silver medalist at the 2004 Olympics. Soboleva earned the silver medal at 1500m in the 2006 World Indoor Championships. In 2007 she won silver at World Outdoors and gold at 2008 World Indoors, however both results were erased due to her ban....along with her indoor 1500m World Record of 3:58.05. Only one woman of the eight did not PR.

Take a look at the breakdown below:

Name Age  PR before '12 (Yr)     Previous SB       Result Location Notes
Svetlana Podosenova 24 4:12.03i ('11) 4:07.26 3:59.61 Moskow 12.42 sec PR from previous years' best
Ekaterina Gorbunova 23 4:01.02 ('11) 4:09.16 3:59.89 Moskow 1.13 sec PR  from previous years' best
Ekaterina Poyistogova 21 4:18.82 ('09) 4:18.4 4:00.11 Zhukovskiy Thanks to twitter, know she was formerly Ekaterina Zavyalova but got married.
18.71 sec PR  from previous years' best
No results before 2012 found, huge PR.
12.90 sec PR from indoors.
Elena Soboleva 29 3:56.43 ('06) 4:12.74i 4:00.33 Moskow Fastest time since 2006. Served a 2 year, 9 month ban from 7/31/08 to 4/30/11. Results from 4/26/07 to 7/31/08 were disqualified. 
Suspended right before Beijing Olympics where she was one of the favorites.
Kristina Khaleeva 24 4:08.79 ('09) 4:05.67 4:00.53 Moskow 8.26 sec PR from previous years' best
Elena Arzhakova 22 4:07.69 ('11) 4:06.06 4:00.82 Moskow 6.87 sec PR  from previous years' best
Won Euro Champs 800 this summer. Ran 1:58.77 in 800 in 2011. Former steeple chaser.
Tatyana Tomashova 37 3:56.91 ('06) No Result 4:01.95 Moskow Fastest time since 2006. Served a 2 year, 9 month ban from 7/31/08 to 4/30/11. Results from 4/26/07 to 7/31/08 were disqualified.
Suspended right before Beijing Olympics.
Ekaterina Martynova 25 4:01.68 ('11) No Result 4:02.75 Zhukovskiy Ouside past dopers, only athlete on list to not set a new PB. Semi-finalist in 1500 at Daegu WC in '11

After seeing the results on the IAAF website I received an email from Race Results Weekly stating three Russia athletes were banned "through the use of the biological passport program" (see article here). I immediately checked the names but none matched to any of the women above, although two were middle distance runners and the third a marathoner. I investigated into these women and their past results (using These are interesting findings and make you very wary during an Olympic year. The Russian Championships are going on right now and I have already noticed that the slowest time to qualify to the finals of the 800 was 2:00.13....six of the eight ladies qualified are under 2:00 (Results here).

I have called out Russia here but I am fully aware that even our own country, the United States, is regarded as a hot bed for dopers due to many of the sprinters being busted especially over the last 10 years. I always hope for the best and want to believe everyone has the best intentions but we have seen through past history that this isn't always the case. I just hope the distance clouds hovering over the Olympic year don't bring down a storm on our already troubled sport.

Additions: Here is a chart mapping how many athletes over the years have run under certain marks, Russians vs the World total

Year Russians
2004 7 37 5 11 2 7
2005 7 22 5 11 4 7
2006 8** 25 5 11 3* 5 *All of these women
were banned in 2008
**2 more of these
women were banned
2007* 4 14 0 5 0 1 *7 Russian banned
before Olympics.
2008* 5 24 0 7 0 1 *7 Russian banned 
before Olympics.
2009 7 32 3 12 2 8
2010 3 34 1 14 1* 7 *Alminova served a 3
month suspension in 2010 
2011 8 37 3 12 0 0 No Russian broke 4:01
2012 9 23 7 12 2 5

Additions: I have added a chart that looks at every Russian women who has run under the current Olympic A standard of 4:06.0. I have tried to add additional marks for events that seemed to be strong points for that athlete.

Name PR Doping Allegations? 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Tatyana Tomashova 3:56.91 Banned from 7/31/08 to 4/30/11. Marks from 5/23/07 disqualified 3:58.12 3:59.05 3:56.91 *4:05.48 *4:10.48 Ban Ban 4:03.69 4:01.95
Natalya Evdokimova 3:57.73
3:59.05 3:57.73 N/A N/A 4:04.19 3:59.66 4:04.56 4:03.33 4:11.11
Olga Yegorova 3:59.47 Banned from 7/31/08 to 4/31/11. Marks from 4/7/07 disqualified 4:01.15 3:59.47 4:01.31 4:04.64 Ban Ban Ban Ban N/A
Gulnara Galkina 4:01.29
4:01.29 N/A N/A 4:03.31 4:03.31 4:02.34 N/A (9:29.75sc) 4:12.82
Yelena Zadorozhnaya 3:59.94
4:01.38 4:03.65 N/A N/A 4:04.88 N/A 4:07.69 (15:05 5k)
(8:41i 3k)
Liliya Shobukhova 4:03.78
4:03.78 4:07.03 4:03.90 (1:11:14 half marathon debut) 4:08.11 (30:29 10k)
(2:24 marathon debut)
(2:20:25 marathon) (2:18:20 marathon) N/A
Yuliya Fomenko
3:55.68 Banned from 7/31/08 to 4/30/11. Marks from 4/27/07 disqualified 4:04.58 3:58.68 3:55.68 Ban Ban Ban Ban 4:10.22 4:15.57i
Elena Soboleva 3:56.43 Banned from 7/31/08 to 4/30/11. Marks from 4/26/07 disqualified 4:11.98 4:01.14 3:56.43 Ban Ban Ban Ban 4:06.64 4:00.33
Elena Kanales 4:02.23 Banned from 2/26/09 to 2/25/12. Marks disqualified 4:09.94 4:02.66 4:02.23 4:12.73i 4:09.32 Ban Ban Ban Ban
Liliya Bikbulatova 4:05.67
(2:04.34) 4:05.67 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Natalya Panteleeva 4:00.81
4:13.57 4:13.84 4:00.81 4:03.2 4:02.56 4:03.92 4:11.27 N/A N/A
Anna Alminova 3:57.65 *Banned from 4/9/10 to 7/8/10. Marks from 3/12/10 disqualified 4:10.30 N/A 4:04.72 4:03.10 4:02.02 3:58.38 *3:57.65 N/A N/A
Olga Komyagina 4:02.32
N/A 4:12.85 4:05.24 4:04.5 4:07.82 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Ekaterina Martynova 4:01.68
(2:05.94) 4:15.56 (2:00.85) 4:15.81 4:05.06 4:05.40 4:09.46 4:01.68 4:02.75
Yelena Sidorchenkova 4:05.77
4:12.47 4:08.78 4:10.08 4:12.27 4:05.77 4:11.58 N/A N/A 4:13.39
Oksana Zbrozhek 4:00.86
4:08.16 (2:02.13) 4:11.35i
N/A 4:00.86 4:04.91 N/A N/A
Yevgeniya Zolotova 4:02.49
N/A (2:00.78) (2:00.10) (2:02.34) (2:03.9) 4:02.49 4:08.25i 4:05.47 4:10.74
Yuliya Zaripova 4:04.59
N/A (2:05.44) N/A N/A (9:54.9sc) 4:04.59
4:10.50 4:07.01
Natalya Popkova 4:05.86
N/A N/A (16:26 5k) 4:16.19 4:10.57 4:05.86 4:09.98 4:07.40 (15:26 5k)
Ekaterina Gorbunova 3:59.89
N/A N/A N/A 4:17.55 4:14.91 4:10.78 4:13.63 4:01.02 3:59.89
Ekaterina Kostetskaya 4:01.77
(55.55 400H) (55.89 400H) (56.75 400H) (1:59.52) (1:56.67) (1:59.31) (2:01.19) 4:01.77
Olesya Syreva 4:02.73
4:18.54i 4:07.78 4:06.47 4:14.12i (15:19 5k)
(1:09:52 Half Marathon)
4:10.90i (1:13:24 Half Marathon) 4:02.73
(1:10:18 Half Marathon)
(1:12:19 Half Marathon)
Anastasiya Vosmerikova 4:03.59
(2:06.96) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 4:06.67 4:03.59 (2:42.59i 1k)
Anna Konovalova 4:03.92
N/A N/A N/A N/A (2:03.67) N/A 4:17.32i
Yuliya Rusanova 4:05.14
N/A N/A N/A (2:03.74) (2:01.2) (1:58.99) (1:59.85) (1:56.99) (2:00.26i)
Svetlana Podosenova 3:59.61
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 4:12.03i 3:59.61
Ekaterina Poyistogova (Zavyalova) 4:00.11
N/A N/A N/A (2:06.96) (2:04.96) 4:18.82
(2:04.33) (2:02.64) 4:00.11
Kristina Khaleeva 4:00.53
N/A N/A N/A N/A 4:10.78
4:09.79 N/A 4:13.73 4:00.53
Elena Arzhakova 4:00.82
N/A N/A (10:12sc) N/A (10:37sc) N/A 4:08.05

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