As 2015 comes to a close, the story of doping in Russian athletics is one that refuses to die. The latest news is that Svein Arne Hansen, the President of European Athletics, does not expect the ban for Russian athletes to be lifted in time for the country’s athletes to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics. While all this goes on, Russia’s Paralympic track and field program continues on with what appears to be little disruption. Since the story started to really pick up at the beginning of the year, only one Russian Paralympic track and field competitor has faced doping sanctions.
2012 London silver medalist in the men’s 400 metres T13 Alexander Zverev received a nine month ban in August of this year that runs until May 5, 2016 for a cannabis related doping violation. The positive test came after the June IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Germany. The length of the ban is such that he should be able to compete at the 2016 Games in Rio.
Russian track and field competitors have little history of doping. While Russia had some athletes face doping sanctions from the International Paralympic Committee who are still facing between 2012 an 2014, these were all in other sports. Powerlifting Vadim Rakitin was the first competitor ever to earn a ban from the IPC for a doping violation involving Human Growth Hormone. Powerlifter Ilfat Mukhatarov earned a two year ban in 2014 for a doping violation involving Indapamide. Russia’s track and field competitor Elena Chistilina had a 2 year ban in 2012 for a Nikethamide metabolite Nethylnicotinamide violation, but that ban ended in 2014.
Canada’s Jean-Paul Compaore is the only track and field competitor who is currently serving a multi-year ban for doping after failing a doping control test at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships. The ban relates to recombinant Erythropoietin (rEPO).
The IPC appears aware of the Russian athletics situation, and claimed in November they were seriously studying the results of a WADA Independent Commission about the Russia that led to the country’s suspend by the International Association of Athletics Federations Council. They have promised to act according, should anything come to light that brings into question the Paralympic side of the sport.
If there are issues, none appear to have come to light following the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships Doha, which saw Russia finish second in total medal count, behind only China. The Russian delegation won 69 medals of which 24 were gold. At the 2015 IPC Athletics Marathon World Championships, Russia finished sixth on the medal table, with one gold medal. No evidence suggests a connection between the two sides, with Paralympic athletics having their own doping controls which run through the NPC instead of through the Russian athletics federation. Russian track and field should not have the same cloud hanging over them as they prepare for their own route to Rio in 2016.