The term the IAAF used was "tampering with doping control process". It seems the seven athletes were supplying alternate urine samples and this was determined by the IAAF checking DNA samples in the urine that was saved over the past year.
This will take the Russian middle distance corps down to nothing. Yelena Soboleva, the Indoor World Champion at 1,500 meters, the world leader at both 800 and 1,500 this year, Tatyana Tomashova, the 2003 and 2005 world champion, 2004 silver medalist, was also cited in the IAAF press release.
Tampering with urine samples is not anything new. In the US, go to the back of Rolling Stone magazine and you can find places where you can purchase clean urine for urine samples. A former Olympic middle distance champion from 1976 and 1980 was caught with a balloon full of urine at a testing about twenty four years ago. The balloon burst and the athlete refused to be tested, thereby getting a life time ban. History never repeats, as the song goes?
The announcement comes on the eve of the Beijing Games, and this announcement will changet completely the character of the middle distances for women in Beijing. The good news is that athletes who were cheating have been caught, and that it was done on a world stage. It is also a telling sign to athletes considering cheating that the IAAF is nabbing world champions who cheat, so no one is immune.
This announcement will just focus the world's media on drugs and ethics once again. Congratulations to the IAAF on catching the offending athletes.
TRACK PROFILE Report #802
AFTER YEAR-LONG INVESTIGATION, RUSSIANS SOBOLEVA, TOMASHOVA, FIVE OTHERS HIT WITH DOPING SUSPENSIONS
By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved
In a scandal that will likely leave the Russian women's middle distance Olympic team in tatters, middle distance stars Yelena Soboleva and Tatyana Tomashova, along with five others, have been provisionally suspended for "tampering with the doping control process," the IAAF announced today.
According to a statement issued by the IAAF, the athletes have been charged "for a fraudulent substitution of urine which is both a prohibited method and also a form of tampering with the doping control process."
The athletes --middle distance runners Yulia Fomenko, Svetlana Cherkasova, and Olga Yegorova, and throwers Daria Pishchalnikova and Gulfiya Khanafeyeva were also named-- were apparently targeted in a year-long investigation carried out by the global governing body.
"These rule violations were established following the deliberate storage of samples by the IAAF and re-analysis using comparative DNA techniques," the IAAF statement continued, "and were the result of a specific investigation which was instigated and carried out by the IAAF for more than a year."
Soboleva, 25, broke the world indoor record 1500m record twice last winter, first at the Russian indoor championships running 3:58.05 on February 10, and then again a month later at the world indoor championships in Valencia, Spain, where she won gold in 3:57.71. The silver medallist at last year's world championships, Soboleva was this season's world leader at both the 800m and 1500m, running 1:54.85 and 3:56.59, respectively. Her 800m performance was the fastest in the world since 1997, and lifted her to the No. 5 spot all-time.
A regular fixture on the international circuit and among the season's fastest in recent years, Soboleva's only appearance outside of Russia this year was in Valencia.
Tomashova, 33, won back-to-back world titles at 1500m in 2003 and 2005, and is the reigning Olympic silver medallist. Tomashova has run sparingly this year, finishing a distant seventh at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., on June 8 before winning the Russian championships on July 20 clocking 3:59.42.
Fomenko, 28, raced to world indoor silver this year behind Soboleva after winning the title in Moscow in 2006, and was also the silver medallist at the 2006 European Championships. She was second at this year's Russian championships, clocking 4:00.57. Cherkasova, 30, had 1:58.37 and 4:06.58 performances to her credit this season. Also named was Yegorova, the controversial 2001 world champion in the 5000m.
The suspension will leave the Russian women without an entrant in the 1500m in Bejing, unless alternates were also named to the team prior to the IOC deadline. Of the seven athletes named, only Cherkasova and Yegorova were not named to the Russian Olympic team.
Under IAAF rules, athletes have up to 14 days to request a hearing with their national federation. IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said that the global governing body has been informed that the Russian Federation will "speed up the hearing process".
Two others, discus thrower Daria Pishchalnikova and hammer thrower Gulfiya Khanafeyeva, were also suspended. Pishchalnikova, 23, took the silver medal at last year's world championships and won gold at the 2006 European championships, and was this year's world leader with a 67.28m (220-9) throw. Khanafeyeva, 26, was the European silver medallist two years ago and won this year's Russian title with a 75.07m (246-3) throw, the fifth best in the world this season.
Used with permission of Bob Ramsak, Trackprofile.com