IOC disqualifies 2-time Sochi Olympic bobsled champion
GENEVA (AP) -- Two-time bobsled gold medalist Alexander Zubkov, who carried the Russian flag at the Opening Ceremony in Sochi, was removed from the 2014 records in the latest round of verdicts from an International Olympic Committee panel prosecuting individuals caught in a program to cover up doping and tamper with tainted samples.
Now the president of the Russian bobsled federation, Zubkov was disqualified and banned for life from the Olympics along with speedskater Olga Fatkulina, who won silver in the 500m
“I’m not going anywhere,” Zubkov told The Associated Press, saying he plans to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and has no intention of stepping down.
“I was working toward those medals for years. All my achievements, all my victories have always been and remain clean,” Zubkov said in a telephone interview. “Sport has turned into politics.”
Russia originally topped the medals table in Sochi, but the latest cases drop it to nine gold medals, fewer than Norway and Canada. In total medals, Russia now has 24, behind the United States, Norway and Canada.
A total of 14 Russians have now been disqualified this month, with nine medals lost.
Zubkov said the ruling was the work of “a commission which makes decisions without any basis or proof.”
“The leaders were sitting there and falling asleep behind their desks when the facts and evidence from my side were being read out. They weren’t interested,” Zubkov said. “These acts and decisions were drawn up beforehand, and it’s very plain to see.”
Bobsled athletes who could be upgraded by the IOC include U.S. driver Steven Holcomb, who placed third in the two-man and four-man events but died unexpectedly in his sleep six months ago. Swiss and Latvian crews are in line for gold medals.
Also disqualified and expelled from the Olympics on Friday were women’s bobsledder Olga Stulneva and men’s speedskater Alexander Rumyantsev. They did not win medals.
The Russian Skating Federation said it would appeal the bans at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Russian authorities, including President Vladimir Putin, deny they knew of a widespread doping program. Instead, they blame former laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov.
Rodchenkov fled to the United States, where he is in a witness protection program, and made allegations as a whistleblower in May 2016 which McLaren later supported with evidence.
Politics and sports are often linked in Russia, and athletes from Zubkov’s sleds have gone on to high-level positions.
His brakeman, Alexey Voyevoda, is now a member of the Russian parliament, while pusher Dmitry Trunenkov runs a youth program for the Russian military.
Trunenkov was banned from all sports activities last year in a separate doping case brought by Russian authorities.