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.


Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

Updated 19 February 2020

Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

  • Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands

ALULA: More than 260 athletes from around the world took part in the recent EcoTrail AlUla, a multi-track running race through the dramatic landscapes of AlUla in Saudi Arabia’s northwest.
Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands. The race was staged as part of the second season of the Winter at Tantora festival, organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla to promote the historic site as an exceptional tourist destination for heritage, arts, culture and sports.

Events took place on three different courses — an 83 km track, followed by a 45 km and a 10 km track — with international athletes taking part in each of the races.

In the 10 km course, 139 contestants took part in the competition, with 125 managing to complete the run. Saudi runner Mohammed Madkhali won first place, while Yemeni runner Fares Aman Aldin came in second and another Saudi runner, Meshari Almuhanna, finished third.

In the women’s category, US runner Meredith Byrne won first place, Saudi runner Sarah Abdullatif came in second, and British runner Maureen McConnell finished third.

Ninety athletes took part in the 45 km race, with 85 finishing. Saudi runner Abdulaziz Al-Ghamdi came in first, with Australian Matthew Sudich second and French runner Nicholas Mordelet in third.

In the women’s category, Dutch runner Floortje Rawee came in first, followed by Italian Alessandra Grassi in second and American Natasha Turak third.

The 83 km race featured 37 athletes with only 17 finishing. In the men’s category, US runner Michael Wardian finished first, followed by Pierre Breuer from Belgium in second and Malaysia’s Soonseng Ong third.

In the women’s category, Amy Sproston from the US ranked first, with Ruth Theresia from Indonesia second and American Rachel Bessette third.

EcoTrail AlUla attracted athletes from around the world, most notably the US, UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Sweden, the UAE, Malaysia, Singapore, Jordan, Oman, Peru, Poland and Indonesia.

The one-day trail gave visitors the opportunity to become acquainted with AlUla and its distinctive natural, cultural, architectural and historical monuments. The trail is an eye-catching destination for running enthusiasts and jogging clubs, and will encourage people to visit AlUla and Saudi Arabia to take part in a global sporting event that promotes environmentally friendly principles and initiatives.

The race contained several medical care stops and catering stations, and each participant received a number in addition to a welcome gift and a shirt. An inaugural dinner was held to welcome contestants on the night before the race.

EcoTrail AlUla is the first race to occur in the Middle East and one of the most notable sports events of this year’s Winter at Tantora festival. The race was sponsored by STC, Almarai Company, Sabeeka Energy Bar, Whites, and Hussak Adventures. The festival’s latest season also provides a wide range of diverse experiences that meet the needs of all visitors and entertain all tastes, for individuals, groups or families from all walks of life.

The festival began on Dec. 19 and will run until March 7, 2020. Guests of the second season of this year will be able to visit the astonishing historical and heritage sites exclusively, and attend the international musical and artistic performances.