BiathlonDopingNewsOlympicsRacingFour Biathletes’ Names Not Scrubbed from McLaren Report; 31 Still Unnamed

Avatar Chelsea LittleDecember 15, 2016
Olga Zaitseva, Ekaterina Glazyrina, Olga Vilukhina, and Irina Starykh celebrate their IBU World Cup biathlon relay victory in Ruhpolding, Germany in January 2014. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)
Olga Zaitseva, Ekaterina Glazyrina, Olga Vilukhina, and Irina Starykh celebrate their IBU World Cup biathlon relay victory in Ruhpolding, Germany in January 2014. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) has received a list of 31 Russian athletes involved in doping, IBU President Anders Besseberg told Norway’s VG newspaper.

The information came from an Independent Person investigation completed for the World Anti-Doping Agency by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren.

“Some of the 31 athletes are already banned, others have retired, but the most urgent thing is to assess the biathletes who are now participating in our international competitions,” Besseberg said. “I reckon that we on the board will make recommendations within a week… of those athletes who the Committee believes should be provisionally excluded.”

Some information about the athletes, however, can already be gleaned from the McLaren report.

For example, one document in the Evidence Disclosure Packet (EDP) failed to redact the names of four biathletes and replace them with alpha-numeric code identifiers. The four athletes were the planned roster for the women’s 4 x 6 k relay at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia: Olga Zaitseva, Olga Vilukhina, Yana Romanova, and Irina Starykh.

Starykh had already been suspended before the Olympics began; she had tested positive for the blood doping drug recombinant erythropoietin.

While the document identifying the women and their code numbers did not contain any evidence of doping, it means that any references to their code identifiers in other evidentiary documents can be connected to them.

For instance, such cross-referencing reveals that one of several samples deemed to be too dilute to be an authentic urine sample by the Drug Control Centre at King’s College London, used by the investigation for external analysis of suspicious samples, belonged to Romanova.

The team – with Ekaterina Shumilova replacing Starykh – won silver in the 4 x 6 k relay in Sochi.

Zaitseva retired after Sochi, as she had long planned to do. Romanova retired after the 2014/2015 season. Vilukhina took that year off and made an unsuccessful return last season, before announcing her retirement on November 14 of this year.

Nine other unnamed biathletes were shown in various documents to have tested positive for banned substances. In at least four of these cases, the results of the test were reported to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s ADAMS reporting database to be negative tests.

And at least 20 more athletes in the report belonged to biathlon, although in those cases there is no specific information about what substances they may have used.

Here is an extensive list of all the biathlon athletes mentioned in central documents from the evidence disclosure packet.

 

About the Documents

Professor McLaren (c) addressing the media after the his second report on systematic, state-sponsored doping in Russian summer and winter sports. (Photo: WADA/Twitter)
Professor McLaren (c) addressing the media after the his second report on systematic, state-sponsored doping in Russian summer and winter sports. (Photo: WADA/Twitter)

EDP1162 and EDP1149: Professor McLaren describes this document in his report: “Alexey Velikodniy created a daily competition schedule that identified protected athletes. The schedule was continuously updated during the Games and included all those on the Sochi Duchess List and athletes added during the Games, such as the female hockey team.”

EDP1149 includes English translation of the original EDP1162, and on page 44 of EDP1149 the names of the women biathletes are not redacted. Why redaction was successful in all other parts of the document, but not there, is questionable. Additionally, the document still seems to have been a planning document, as Staryk is still listed as competing in the relay even though she had long been off the Olympic team.

EDP1156: A list of sample numbers and collection during or immediately before the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, from protected national team athletes. Some data about the urine tests, like pH and specific gravity, are included, indicating that this was not merely a planning document but that the tests took place.

EDP1141: Results of a study done at King’s College London assessing whether the sodium concentration and specific gravity of some doping control samples were abnormal. (They were: in some cases, though none in biathlon, sodium concentrations were consistent with having added a teaspoon of salt to a one-cup urine sample.)

EDP1155: Translations of emails involving Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory who became a whistleblower and took his story to the New York Times.

EDP1166: A list of test numbers, mostly associated with athlete ID numbers, identified by the investigation. “The IP has identified more than 1231 samples where the Moscow Laboratory communicated the presence of a prohibited substance in a Russian athlete’s sample to the [Ministry of Sport] and later reported that sample as negative in ADAMS or did not report the sample at all.” This document lists those 1231 samples.

There are columns for which substances were positive in the sample (this column is often blank) and how the report was filed in the ADAMS database. Many samples were filed as “negative”, but this column is also often left blank. This may mean that the sample was never reported in ADAMS at all – as McLaren says was fairly common – or simply that there was no information about it.

In general, the investigation’s translations from Russian into English are not always smooth. This is particularly apparent in reference to competitions: the name or level of a series is hard to interpret. It’s possible that the anti-doping staff themselves were not familiar with the different race circuits because they were not necessarily biathlon experts, and worked more generally in all sports.

A further note: some documents are scanned and thus not searchable by text. Thus some names and numbers may be referenced in places where we have not yet found them.

 

The Biathlon Relay Team

A0944, Olga Vilukhina

Olga Vilukhina won a silver medal in the sprint at the 2014 Olympics.
Olga Vilukhina won a silver medal in the sprint at the 2014 Olympics.

Why do we know her name? Listed in position “1” on pages 44 and 45 of EDP1149, in the 4 x 6 k relay

Evidence of being a protected athlete? Yes, in multiple documents (although those documents may be redundant; without metadata, it is difficult to tell).

Evidence that positive tests were covered up? Maybe. In EDP1166, one of Vilukhina’s samples (2870741) is listed as being reported “negative” to the ADAMS database and referred to in a document titled (in Russian) “Biathlon 3”, indicating a date of 06.01.2014 for the sample. But there is no substance listed for this sample in EDP1166. Because this document was assembled to be a list of samples which were reported to the Ministry of Sport as being positive, it’s not clear what to conclude from this combination of facts.

Other tests? Besides that one sample, there are several other samples listed for Vilukhina: urine samples collected January 31, February 9, and February 16, 2014, and a blood sample collected February 15, 2014. While the urine samples are referenced in EDP1166, no substances were listed and the test does not seem to have been entered into ADAMS. February 9 was the day of the women’s sprint in Sochi, where Vilukhina won a silver medal. February 16 was the day before the women’s mass start, where Vilukhina placed 21st.

A0983, Olga Zaitseva

Olga Zaitseva blows kisses to the crowd as she brings Russia the gold in the Olympic biathlon relay in 2010.
Olga Zaitseva blows kisses to the crowd as she brings Russia the gold in the Olympic biathlon relay in 2010.

Why do we know her name? Listed in position “3” on pages 44 and 45 of EDP1149, in the 4 x 6 k relay

Evidence of being a protected athlete? Yes, in multiple documents (although those documents may be redundant; without metadata, it is difficult to tell).

Evidence of positive tests? Maybe. In EDP1166, one of Zaitseva’s samples (2870735) is listed as being reported “negative” to the ADAMS database. But there is no substance listed for this sample or date of collection and it is not referred to in any other documents. Because EDP1166 was assembled to be a list of samples which were reported to the Ministry of Sport as being positive, it’s not clear what to conclude from this combination of facts.

Other tests? Besides that one sample, there are several other samples listed for Zaitseva. Around the time of Sochi, urine samples were collected January 31, February 14 and February 19, 2014, and a blood sample collected January 31, 2014. An additional undated urine sample is referred to in EDP1166. For these samples, no substances were listed and the test does not seem to have been entered into ADAMS. February 14 was the day of the women’s 15 k individual, where Zaitseva placed 15th, and February 19 was the mixed relay, where the Russian team including both Zaitseva and Vilukhina placed fourth.

A0714, Yana Romanova

Yana Romanova competing in Kontiolahti, Finland, in 2010. (Photo: Peter Porai-Koshits/Wikimedia/Creative Commons)
Yana Romanova competing in Kontiolahti, Finland, in 2010. (Photo: Peter Porai-Koshits/Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

Why do we know her name? Listed in position “4” on pages 44 and 45 of EDP1149, in the 4 x 6 k relay

Evidence of being a protected athlete? Yes, in multiple documents (although those documents may be redundant; without metadata, it is difficult to tell).

Evidence of positive tests? The report from King’s College London indicates that one of Romanova’s samples (number 2889617, collected on February 2, 2014, just before the Sochi Olympics began, according to another document) was too dilute to be an authentic sample. In the report and the New York Times investigation, Rodchenkov described adding water or salt to samples that were being manipulated. The King’s College London test suggests that this may be one such sample.

In EDP1166, one of Romanova’s samples (2870745) is listed as being reported “negative” to the ADAMS database. But there is no substance listed for this sample or date of collection and it is not referred to in any other documents. Because EDP1166 was assembled to be a list of samples which were reported to the Ministry of Sport as being positive, it’s not clear what to conclude from this combination of facts.

Other tests? Besides those two samples, there are several others listed for Romanova. Around the time of Sochi, urine samples were collected January 31, February 2, 13, and 21, 2014, and blood samples collected February 14 and 15, 2014. An additional undated urine sample is referred to in EDP1166. For these samples, no substances were listed and the test does not seem to have been entered into ADAMS. February 14 was the day of the women’s 15 k individual, where Romanova placed 53rd, and February 21 was the day of the women’s relay.

A0856, Irina Starykh

Targeted testing based on data from the IBU's Athlete Biological Testing program led to the suspension of Irina Starykh, above, and another Russian biathlete for blood-doping. The IBU fined Russia for a cluster of doping cases.
Targeted testing based on data from the IBU’s Athlete Biological Testing program led to the suspension of Irina Starykh, above on her way to fifth place in the World Cup pursuit in Hochfilzen, Austria, in 2013, and another Russian biathlete for blood-doping. The IBU fined Russia for a cluster of doping cases.

Why do we know her name? Listed in position “5” on pages 44 and 45 of EDP1149, in the 4 x 6 k relay

Evidence of being a protected athlete? Yes, in multiple documents (although those documents may be redundant; without metadata, it is difficult to tell).

Evidence of positive tests? In EDP1166, two of Starykh’s samples (2870740 and 2870745) are listed as being reported “negative” to the ADAMS database. But there is no substance or date listed for either sample, and they are not referred to in any other documents. Because EDP1166 was assembled to be a list of samples which were reported to the Ministry of Sport as being positive, it’s not clear what to conclude from this combination of facts.

Other tests? No tests are listed for Starykh at the Sochi Olympics, because she was not there. However, there are five more samples of hers listed in EDP1166, for which no substances were listed and the test does not seem to have been entered into ADAMS.

 

Other Athletes with Positive Tests Described in Documents

Thirty-one other athlete ID numbers are associated with the sport of biathlon, and three additional mentions of biathletes which are not associated with any ID number. This means that they could belong to some of the 35 numbered athletes (the four named women plus the 31 unidentified, but numbered, athletes), or they could be completely separate cases.

Of those 31-34 other biathletes, here are the ones for whom positive tests for prohibited substances are explicitly mentioned in the documents.

A0241, female

Evidence of being a protected athlete? Maybe. This athlete was certainly competing internationally. By the time Russian anti-doping staff were discussing her case, she was in Ruhpolding, Germany, and then was set to travel to Antholz, Italy – consistent with the World Cup schedule – before checking into the Olympics. This plan does not seem to be jeopardized by her positive test, although the staff notes that she is at risk. After the positive test, Rodchenkov notes that “it is necessary to hide her immediately.”

Besides the four athletes named above, Shumilova competed in Sochi, along with Olga Podhufarova and Ekaterina Glazyrina. Several others were competing on the World Cup, but were unlikely to have been slated for Sochi participation because they did not have strong results so far in the season – the possible exception being Ekaterina Yurlova.

Evidence of positive tests? In EDP1166, this athlete’s sample (2866518) is shown as testing positive for methenolone, oxandrolone, and trenbolone, all anabolic steroids. The test was allegedly collected on 12.19.2013 in Izhevsk, Russia, at the biathlon championships.

How was the test handled? In the emails, which you can see in Russian here, this sample is given a “save” order, meaning that it should be reported as negative. And in EDP1166, the sample is shown as being negative in ADAMS. She may have additionally been quarantined: the anti-doping staff write in emails that if she was to be subjected to an international test (for instance, but the International Biathlon Union), she would certainly test positive and it would be “a very ugly situation for the lab if we ‘found nothing’ in such concentrations and for those substances.”

Other tests? In EDP1166, two of this athlete’s samples (2870746 and 2867708) are listed as being reported “negative” to the ADAMS database. But there is no substance or date listed for either sample, and they are not referred to in any other documents. Because EDP1166 was assembled to be a list of samples which were reported to the Ministry of Sport as being positive, it’s not clear what to conclude from this combination of facts. An additional blood test is listed in EDP1166 with no substances listed, and the test does not seem to have been entered into ADAMS.

Unnumbered Athlete, male

Evidence of being a protected athlete? No. The only other information about this athlete is that it was a man.

Evidence of positive tests? The emails refer to this athlete’s sample (2759623) being positive for 16a-hydroxyprednisolone (budesonide metabolite). Budesonide is a corticosteroid which is used in asthma medications such as Pulmicort inhalers, but it is also used in other forms: as pills, nasal sprays, and as a rectal foam to treat intestinal problems. The sample is written to have been collected on 11.1.2013 at in international competition in Ostrov, Russia. That day, IBU Cup sprints were held in Ostrov, with three Russian men (race winner Alexey Slepov, plus Sergey Korastylev and Sergey Klyachin) in the top six.

How was the test handled? There’s no information about how this test was handled. It is discussed in the email, but no conclusion is reached. It also does not appear in EDP1166.

Other tests? None listed.

A0028

Evidence of being a protected athlete? There’s no other information about this athlete.

Evidence of positive tests? In the emails, athlete A0028 is described as having tested positive for “methandienone circuit” at the Russian biathlon championships in Uvat on 31.07.2014. It’s unclear what “circuit” refers to – it may be an awkward translation – but methandienone is an anabolic steroid. In addition, the testosterone to epitestosterone ratio is listed as 6.2. A high ratio can indicate that an athlete was using exogenous testosterone, and a finding of a ratio above 4.0 triggers further investigation. The original email can be seen (in Russian) here.

How was the test handled? In the emails, the word “Quarantine” appears above the description of this athlete’s test results. This likely means that the athlete was kept in Russia until they could pass an anti-doping test. There’s no information about whether the test was reported to the ADAMS database or not.

Other tests? None listed.

A0179, female

Evidence of being a protected athlete? No. The only other information about this athlete is that it was a woman.

Evidence of positive tests? Document EDP1166 states that on 09.28.2014 at Russian biathlon championships in lzhevsk, a sample tested positive for isomers of amphetamines, which are banned stimulants. There is also discussion of the sample in the emails, with someone writing, “find out what she took!” The group seems to suspect that the substance came from a dietary supplement. The email (in Russian) can be seen here.

How was the test handled? In the emails, this case is listed with a “save” order: that means that a positive test should be turned into a negative one. Indeed, document EDP1166 states that this test was reported as negative to the ADAMS database.

Other tests? None listed.

A0461, male

Evidence of being a protected athlete? No. The only other information about this athlete is that it was a man.

Evidence of positive tests? EDP1166 shows that one of this athlete’s samples (2867705) tested positive for tuaminoheptane, a prohibited stimulant which is used in nasal decongestants. The emails (here) show that this sample was collected on 12.21.2013 at a Russian Cup race in lzhevsk.

How was the test handled? The emails are unclear, with someone writing, “and this one still does not have a decision (or I missed it).” However, in EDP1166 the test is listed as having been reported to ADAMS as negative.

One staff member, perhaps assumed to be Rodchenkov, writes this regarding the sample: “Alex, come on, I’ll close the whole shop… They are imprudent beyond measure… and then I will go to other laboratories after February 2014.”

Other tests? In EDP1166, two of this athlete’s samples (2918636 and 2870699) are listed as being reported “negative” to the ADAMS database. But there is no substance or date listed for either sample, and they are not referred to in any other documents. Because EDP1166 was assembled to be a list of samples which were reported to the Ministry of Sport as being positive, it’s not clear what to conclude from this combination of facts.

A0751, female

Evidence of being a protected athlete? No. The only other information about this athlete is that it was a woman.

Evidence of positive tests? EDP1166 shows that one of this athlete’s samples (2945500) tested positive for pthalates, which are plasticizers. They are prohibited because they are thought to indicate the use of blood transfusions, with the plasticizers being used to soften the plastic in blood bags and then diffusing into the blood. The emails show that this sample was collected on 09.28.2014 at Russian biathlon championships in lzhevsk, That email (in Russian) can be seen here.

How was the test handled? EDP1166 shows that this test was reported as negative to ADAMS.

Other tests? None listed.

A1244, male

Evidence of being a protected athlete? No. The only other information about this athlete is that it was a man.

Evidence of positive tests? The sample (2868394) is not listed in EDP1166, but only discussed in the emails (in Russian here). The emails refer to a positive test for trimetazidine, a metabolic modulator which protects against angina and heart problems, much like meldonium. According to the emails the sample was collected in Uvat at Russian biathlon championships on 6 April (assumed to be 2014).

How was the test handled? There’s no information about how this test was handled.

Other tests? None listed.

Unnumbered Athlete, male

Evidence of being a protected athlete? No. The only other information about this athlete is that it was a man.

Evidence of positive tests? In the emails, one of this athlete’s samples (2689927) is written to contain methylhexanamine, a banned stimulant common in dietary supplements (it is in fact the same substance which German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle tested positive for at the 2014 Olympics). The sample was collected on 2012-12-17 at all-Russia competitions in Ekaterinburg.

How was the test handled? There’s no information about how this test was handled. In the emails, it is clear that nothing was done about the test until the following year (2013), but the final action is not discussed. It also does not appear in EDP1166.

Other tests? None listed.

Unnumbered Athlete, male

Evidence of being a protected athlete? No. The only other information about this athlete is that it was a man.

Evidence of positive tests? One of this athlete’s samples (2746493) is discussed in the emails as having tested positive for furosemide, a diuretic and masking agent. The sample was collected on 01/09/2013 at all-Russia competitions in lzhevsk.

How was the test handled? There’s no information about how this test was handled. Other than reporting the sample, there is no discussion of the test in the emails, and also does not appear in EDP1166.

Other tests? None listed.

 

Other Athletes Mentioned in the Documents

For the rest of the biathletes, sample numbers are listed in EDP1166, but no substances are listed and positive tests are not discussed described in any of the other documents. Because EDP1166 was assembled to be a list of samples which were reported to the Ministry of Sport as being positive, it’s not clear what to conclude about the samples.

Here is what we know about them.

ID Number Gender Samples reported as negative Samples with no information about reporting
A0023 Male   2869722
A0136 Male   2870692
A0157 Male 2867964  
A0201 Female 2869837  
A0232 Male 2870747 2889906, 2890603, 2890739, 2944467
A0282 Female 2866843  
A0321 Female 2868243  
A0491 Male 2870733 857444 (blood)
A0508 Male 2868236  
A0521 Male 2870742 857581, 857105, 857600
A0548 Female 2869752  
A0567 Female 2867862  
A0576 Male 2866527  
A0579 Female 2870697  
A0598 Female 2847214  
A0639 Female 2869643  
A0640 Male 2869203  
A0687 Male 2867881  
A0795 Male 2870739 2944657, 2890878, 2890855, 2889922, 2889808
A0804 Male 2869859
A0808 Female 2870743 857613 (blood)
A0930 Male 2870744 857573, 857440 (blood)
A0950 Male 2870748
A1031 Male 2869912

In addition:

A0142, male

Mentioned in EDP1166: Sample 2916590 is listed as having been reported as negative in the ADAMS database. There is no information listed about substances in the sample.

Other mentions: The same sample is described in an email which does not seem to have been translated into English. The sample was collected on 2014-07-17 in Toksovo, outside of Saint Petersburg.

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Chelsea Little

Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.

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