SPORTS

Bach tells AP: IOC to study Zaripova doping case and possible stripping of Olympic gold medal

02/04/2015 09:22 EST | Updated 04/06/2015 05:59 EDT
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. - The International Olympic Committee will examine Yulia Zaripova's doping case to determine whether the Russian athlete should be stripped of her gold medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase from the 2012 London Games.

IOC President Thomas Bach told The Associated Press that the Olympic body is ready to "take all the necessary steps" after Zaripova was banned for 2 1/2 years by Russia's anti-doping agency last Friday for a biological passport violation.

The Russian agency said Zaripova's results would be annulled for parts of 2011 and 2012, dates which include her Olympic victory.

"The position of the IOC is very clear," Bach said during a visit to the Alpine skiing world championships. "We will look into this case and then the decision will be taken with our zero-tolerance policy."

"If the sanction concerns the period of the Olympic Games or if the sanctions concern the time of the qualification event, the IOC will take all the necessary steps," he added.

Bach said the IOC will study the Russian agency's full judgment and reasons before launching disciplinary procedures in the case.

If Zaripova is stripped of her London victory, Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia would be in line to be upgraded from silver to gold. Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia would be promoted from bronze to silver, with Kenya's Milcah Chemos going from fourth place to the bronze.

Zaripova's gold would become the fourth London Olympic medal to be reallocated and the second gold after that of Belarusian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk.

Of the 22 Russians who originally won track and field medals at the 2012 Olympics, six have since been banned for doping. One Olympic medal, a silver won by discus thrower Darya Pishchalnikova, was reallocated.

Zaripova's suspension was backdated from July 2013 and expires on January 24, 2016. That would leave her eligible to compete in next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Zaripova is one of a slew of Russian athletes who have been suspended for doping violations in recent weeks. She was sanctioned on the basis of irregularities in her biological passport, which tracks changes in an athlete's blood profile for signs of doping.

The World Anti-Doping Agency and the IAAF have opened investigations into accusations broadcast by Germany's ARD channel in December, including claims of organized doping and coverups in Russia.

Also banned last Friday was Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist Tatyana Chernova. She tested positive for the banned steroid oralturinabol when a sample from the 2009 world championships was retested.

Chernova was given a two-year ban backdated to 2013, with results annulled between August 2009 and August 2011. She keeps her 2011 world title.

Earlier last month, doping bans were imposed on five Russian race-walkers, including three Olympic champions.

"On the one hand, it shows that Russia takes this fight against doping seriously," Bach told the AP. "On the other hand, we'll have to wait for the result of the WADA and IAAF inquiry about what may have happened or not in Russian sport."

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