A bad year for Russian sport has ended on a further sour note with the announcement that eight athletes, six from weightlifting and two from cycling, have been handed doping bans.
In what, given the date, could be considered an attempt to “bury bad news”, statements posted on the Russian Anti Doping Agency (RUSADA) website this morning explained only how each case relates to “doping rule violations based on the findings of the disciplinary committee.”
The weightlifters banned are Mikhail Reznichenko, Tejmur Aleskerov, Oleg Musokhranov, Dmitry Srybnyj, Evgeniy Kolomiets and Yuriy Selyutin.
The best known of the athletes is 22-year-old Kolomiets, 22, a silver medalist at the 2011 World Junior Weightlifting Championships in the 94 kilogram class and who was third at this year’s Russian Championships.
He has been banned for 10 years for a second doping offense, RUSADA said, without giving any details of what he tested positive for.
Selyutin has also been banned for 10 years for a second offense.
He was suspended for two years in 2010 after testing positive for the substance methandienone, but no details have been given for this latest offense.
Srybny, Reznichenko and Aleskerov received two-year bans, while Musokhranov was banned for three months.
Reznichenko was another considered a good prospect for the future, having won the 77kg title at the Russian Junior Championships in October.
The weightlifters have been joined by female cyclists Elena Bocharnikova and Yana Bezrukov, each banned for two years.
Bocharnikova, in particular, was tipped for a bright future after finishing ninth in the road race at the Russian National Championships amid various performances on the European circuit.
These latest cases, although affecting less high profile athletes than in the past, comes at the end of a year which has been riddled with Russian doping violations across a multitude of different sports.
This has particularly affected athletics, where two former world and Olympic champions in Svetlana Krivelyova and Olga Kuzenkova were each banned for two years in April after a re-examination of past samples.
Kuzenkova, the 2004 Olympic women’s hammer champion, tested positive after taking another title at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, while Krivelyova won the Barcelona 1992 Olympic shot put title and test positive 12 years later at Athens 2004.
In October European 5,000 metres champion Olga Golovkina became the 32nd Russian athlete to be banned in 2013 alone, while the sports of powerlifting, judo, roller-skating, BMX and track cycling and wushu are others to produce recent test failures.
Ahead of Russia hosting the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi next year, the winter disciplines have also been implicated, with national freestyle skiing champion Anna Orlovskaya receiving a two-year ban earlier this month.
Vast numbers of Russian biathletes, including the Turin 2006 champion and five time Olympic medalist Albina Akhatova, have also been implicated in doping scandals in recent years.
The anti-doping program at Sochi 2014 will be the toughest for any Olympics with 57 percent more tests due to be conducted than Vancouver 2010, with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach also warning that “a positive drugs test would overshadow the achievement of any team at Sochi 2014.”
After this latest case the prospect of more high-profile failures, at Sochi and elsewhere, will be a major worry for Russian officials moving looking ahead to 2014.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Insidethegames is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.