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Russian Biathlete Loses His Medals, His Country’s Latest Defeat

  • October 27, 2020

The ruling by CAS, which confirmed a decision reached earlier this year, is another reminder of how Russia’s cheating scheme continues to alter the record books from world championships and Olympic Games long after it was uncovered in 2015. Norway, which won 11 gold medals in Sochi to Russia’s 10, is now the outright leader in golds from those Games.

In Tuesday’s announcement, the court came to the same conclusion reached by the I.B.U. in February to disqualify Ustyugov and his winning relay team in Sochi. It also stripped Ustyugov of a gold and bronze medal he was awarded at the Vancouver Games in 2010.

Russia, which is also appealing a four-year ban from global sports because of its doping activities, continues to contest much of what has now been revealed by whistle-blowers, investigators and laboratory data. Its lawyers tried to clear Ustyugov by introducing private tests, taken in 2017, that claimed his abnormal blood results were not a result of years of cheating but the natural outcome of a rare genetic advantage. That claim, which had been endorsed by senior Russian sports officials and even the country’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, was dismissed by the court.

The court’s ruling also underscored the continued importance of the whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow laboratory at the heart of the doping scheme, to ongoing investigations. In interviews with The New York Times in 2016, Rodchenkov pulled back the curtain on Russia’s huge doping program, and he continues to provide investigators with crucial details in ongoing doping cases. He is living under witness protection in the United States, where he fled shortly before revealing Russia’s doping secrets.

In the Ustyugov case, the court described Rodchenkov as “a credible witness who had direct knowledge of circumstances affecting and involving the athlete and had particular knowledge relating to the athlete himself.”

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