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HomeNewsUpdate: Another doping cheat caught, but Vancouver Olympics medals standings remain

Update: Another doping cheat caught, but Vancouver Olympics medals standings remain


Bob Mackin 

The International Olympic Committee, reeling from the arrests of Rio 2016’s top two executives on corruption charges, is patting itself on the back for re-testing Vancouver 2010 urine samples and finding only one more athlete cheated. 

It made the announcement Oct. 9. Almost three weeks later, on Oct. 26, the International Biathlon Union admitted it was one of their own: Slovenia’s Teja Gregorin, whose Feb. 6-7, 2010 B-sample was found to contain the banned substance GHRP-2 (growth hormone releasing peptide 2). Gregorin’s best finish at the Vancouver Games was fifth in the mass start. 

As per standard practice, samples were reviewed against new technology; for Vancouver, the statute of limitations is set to expire in February 2018. 

“Out of the 1,710 urine samples available from Vancouver 2010, 70% (1,195 samples) were analysed, including the samples from all medallists and all Russian athletes,” said the IOC’s Oct. 9-released statement. “Three adverse analytical findings, all coming from one athlete, are being taken forward for results management.”

Richmond Olympic Oval hosted a temporary anti-doping lab in 2010 (Richmond)

The Vancouver Games were far from clean and the numbers in the IOC statement conflict with a post-Games report by the World Anti-Doping Agency from May 2010.

A report by WADA’s independent observers said 2,149 samples were collected at Vancouver 2010, including 1,742 urine samples and 407 blood samples. theBreaker asked the IOC to explain the difference of 32 urine samples, but a prepared statement adds to the confusion.

“The 1,710 urine samples available for reanalysis by the IOC were the ones transported to Lausanne for storage after the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010,” the IOC media statement said. “Other urine samples were collected by laboratories in various locations around the world and therefore were not part of the samples available for the reanalysis program Vancouver 2010.”

The May 2010 report said an out-of-competition urine sample from Russian women’s hockey player Sventlana Terenteva found the prohibited stimulant tuaminoheptane. Slovakian men’s hockey player Lubomir Visnovsky failed an in-competition test for the stimulant pseudoephedrine. They were both reprimanded, but not disqualified. 

Kornelia Marek, a Polish cross-country skier, tested positive for illegal EPO after the Games and was disqualified in April 2010.

A temporary drug testing laboratory was set-up at the Richmond Olympic Oval, the Vancouver 2010 speedskating venue. The report said the issues identified did not affect the integrity or validity of the program, but it did point to many problems for doping control workers trying to do their jobs. 

Vancouver 2010 mascots Miga, Quatchi and Mukmuk (VANOC)

“Access to the field of play and mixed zone was sometimes restricted despite the doping control officials (including the IO team) having the correct accreditation and identification,” said the WADA report. “The personnel from the host broadcaster (Games designated television) presented the greatest obstacle, often trying to prevent (on occasion successfully) the chaperones and other doping control officials (including the IO team) from gaining the necessary access to conduct notification of the athletes on the field of play or to chaperone them through the mixed zone once notification was completed.”

In 2010, Canada won a Winter Olympics host nation record of 14 gold medals, including men’s and women’s hockey. Canada also registered seven silver and five bronze medals. 

Officials from Sochi 2014 and Russia’s national anti-doping agency were also observers at the Vancouver Games. Russia’s three gold medals, five silver and seven bronze showing at Vancouver 2010 embarrassed the country’s leadership, which spent $186 million on preparations, according to a government audit that found waste and corruption. The three gold medals were Russia’s worst post-Soviet Winter Games showing and motivation for the Sochi program. 

Lawyer Richard McLaren’s independent investigation for WADA found more than 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 sports were part of a massive doping conspiracy that peaked at Sochi 2014, where the host won 13 gold medals, 11 silver and nine bronze. Laboratory manager and whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov fled to the United States in early 2016 and was featured in the Netflix documentary Icarus. Advocates for clean sport wanted the IOC to ban Russia from the Rio 2016 Olympics, but the IOC left it to each international sport federation to decide eligibility of individual athletes. The IOC is re-analyzing all 254 urine samples from Russian athletes who competed at Sochi 2014.