Second Russian athlete tests positive for doping at Winter Olympics

Russia's Nadezhda Sergeeva and Russia's Anastasia Kocherzhova (unseen) compete in the women's bobsleigh heat during the Winter Olympic Games. Sergeeva has tested positive for a banned substance. (AFP)
Updated 23 February 2018

Second Russian athlete tests positive for doping at Winter Olympics

GANGNEUNG, South Korea: A second Russian athlete has failed a doping test at the Pyeongchang Games, a day before the International Olympic Committee’s executive board is to decide whether to reinstate the country for Sunday’s closing ceremony.
Russian Bobsled Federation president Alexander Zubkov told The Associated Press on Friday that a drug-test sample that pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva gave on Sunday was positive.
The Russian delegation at the Pyeongchang Olympics said in a statement that the substance found was trimetazdine, a medication used for angina sufferers that is listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency as a banned substance affecting the metabolism.
“She confirms she took no such medication and the team confirms she was not issued any medication,” said Zubkov, a former bobsledder who himself was stripped of two Olympic gold medals for the Russian doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games. “Federation representatives at the Olympics” are starting to prepare a defense, he said.
Zubkov also said a sample she had given five days earlier was negative.
“I can tell you that on the 13th it was clean, but on the 18th it gave a positive result for the heart medication,” he said.
Sergeeva’s crew finished 12th in the women’s bobsled competition on Wednesday, after she had given the sample that later came back positive.
The Russian team was barred from the Olympics in December for doping at the Sochi Games, but the IOC invited 168 athletes from the country to compete under the Olympic flag.
“This won’t win us any extra credit,” Russian delegation leader Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in comments reported by Russian media. “Unfortunately this case speaks to negligence by the athlete. She has let us down.”
Earlier this month, Sergeeva told the AP that competitors from other countries had warmed to her after she passed IOC vetting for Pyeongchang, which included an examination of her drug-testing history.
“I don’t know why, but they’ve started talking to us more than ever before. I feel it. Maybe it’s a sign to them that we’re clean,” Sergeeva said. “There’s a lot of people coming up and saying, ‘We’re happy you’re here.’“
At the time, she was training in a T-shirt with the words “I Don’t Do Doping.” Sergeeva used to compete in track and field as a heptathlete before switching sports in 2010.
It is the fourth doping case of the games. Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky was stripped of his bronze medal Thursday after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium. Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic and Japanese speedskater Kei Saito also left the games after testing positive.
Trimetazidine, the substance found in Sergeeva’s sample, has been detected in previous doping cases. Chinese swimmer Sun Yang, an Olympic gold medalist, was banned for three months in 2014 by his country’s sports authorities after testing positive for the substance.
Sun said he had been prescribed the drug for a medical condition and hadn’t known it was banned. The perceived leniency of that three-month ban led to Sun receiving criticism from swimmers from other countries at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where he won another gold medal.
Russia’s bobsled program has been in the spotlight for drug use for several years.
Zubkov and four other bobsledders were disqualified from the 2014 Sochi Games for doping, though four other bobsledders have been reinstated. Another gold medalist, Dmitry Trunenkov, was banned last year for failing a doping test.


Saudi desert gears up for Dakar Rally in January

Updated 13 December 2019

Saudi desert gears up for Dakar Rally in January

  • Taking place from January 5 to 17, the 7500-kilometer adventure will be hosted in Asia for the first time
  • The race will start in Jeddah and will end in Qiddiya, Riyadh

DUBAI: The countdown begins for the Dakar Rally Saudi Arabia in Jeddah, where hundreds of drivers from different countries are set to brave Saudi desert over 13 days.

Taking place from January 5 to 17, the 7500-kilometer adventure will be hosted in Asia for the first time. The race will start in Jeddah and will end in Qiddiya, Riyadh.

“We were really excited by the extremely beautiful landscape and the deserts were exactly what we expected with the dunes, the nice mountains and small canyons. We have some stages along the sea also, so it will be a mixed landscape, which is very interesting,” 13-time Dakar Rally winner Stéphane Peterhansel said.

The drivers will undergo 12 stages throughout the race, where they will experience different terrains and explore the Kingdom’s landscape.

It will start in Jeddah for 752 kilometer, then continues up north along the coast for nearly 900 kilometer through the Red Sea Project until it reaches the megacity Neom, where the journey reaches its highest point at an altitude of 1,400 meters amid a series of canyons and mountains.

From Neom, the racers will cruise 676 kilometers Al Ula in Dakar’s fourth stage before the sandy hills of Ha’il put the navigation skills of competitors to the test while descending south onto Riyadh.

A rest day in the capital will be followed by Dakar Saudi Arabia’s longest stage – a 741-kilometer route to the west in the center of the kingdom’s enormous desert before looping back towards Haradh in the eastern governorate of Al Ahsa.

The racers will then enter the Empty Quarter for the grand finals, where the winner will be crowned on the final podium.