The three Russian biathletes Ekaterina Yorieva, Dmitry Yarochenko and Albina Akhatova have completed their two-year suspensions after being caught doping during the Österssund, Sweden, World Cup events in December 2008. This weekend, Yarochenko and Yorieva will start at the IBU Cup events in Martell – one level down from the World Cup.
Last weekend featured Russian Cup races in Ufa, where Yarochenko placed third and fifth in two sprint races there, with the fastest ski times. Accordingly, he and Yorieva received the Russian wild card entries to the next IBU cup races in Martell and Obertilliach.
“We have eight spots for the IBU Cup, and seven are pre-qualified. But one female and one male spot are left up to the coaches’ discretion, so we have decided to bring Yorieva and Yarochenko. Yarochenko raced well during the Ufa events, posting the best times for the course. Both racers are determined and approved for the next IBU Cup races,” said Vladimir Barnachov, the director for the Russian IBU Cup team, in a press release.
Despite her doping charge, Yorieva has been a popular character in Russia throughout her suspension. She has maintained her blog on the popular Russian sports site, sports.ru. She has also been a guest on a sports talk show on the Russia 2 television station, where the TV interviewer repeatedly expressed sarcasm toward Norwegian biathlon racers and other athletes who have criticized the doping convicted Russian biathletes.
For Akhatova, who had earlier expressed interest in returning and training for the upcoming season, her career is over. Her goal was to race in this year’s World Championships on home turf in Khanty-Mansiysk, where she earned gold in 2003. However, she decided to retire, instead.
“This was a hard decision because the sport has been such a large part of my life. I have tried to train and prepare for a comeback. But I have been set back with frequent illness and had to start over from scratch several times in terms of training. Maybe my body no longer absorbs or accepts this hard training. So I have decided to retire,” Akhatova said in a recent interview with Russia 2.
From Strafferunden.no, December 6, 2010. By Ole Kristian Stoltenberg. Translation by Inge Scheve.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.