News 6th October 2015

Kostner, WADA & CONI settle on backdated ban

Carolina Kostner, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Italian Olympic committee’s (CONI) anti-doping agency (UPA) have agreed that a longer sanction will be backdated in order to allow the Italian figure skater to begin competing from 1 January 2016, almost five months earlier than her original sanction allowed. CONI originally issued Kostner (pictured) with a 16-month ban on 25 January 2015, after she admitted lying about the whereabouts of her boyfriend, race-walker Alex Schwazer, so that he could avoid being tested on 30 July 2012. Schwazer also failed in an appeal against his ban, issued after he tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) had registered two appeals against the 16-month ban. Kostner sought an annulment of the ban, whilst CONI had sought to increase the sentence to two years. Article 2.8 of CONI’s Anti-Doping Sports Rules (NSA) prohibits athletes from ‘encouraging or helping, instigating, concealing or providing any other type of complicity with respect to any violation, or attempted violation, of the NSA’. Article 3.3 allows CONI to sanction athletes for ‘non-cooperation on the part of any person regarding compliance with the NSA, including failure to report the circumstances relevant to the assessment of the facts of doping’.

‘The parties have agreed to increase the sixteen month sanction imposed at first instance by the Italian National Anti-Doping Tribunal by five months’, read a 5 October CAS statement. ‘The resulting twenty one month ineligibility period is backdated to 1 April 2014 based on procedural delays that are not attributable to Ms Kostner. Ms Kostner will therefore be eligible to compete from 1 January 2016.’

Schwazer was initially sanctioned with a three and-a-half year ban in April 2013. This was later increased by six months, but with three months suspended, meaning that his ban would expire on 29 April 2016. CONI yesterday announced that his appeal has been rejected. Schwazer’s ban will expire ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and it is understood that he will compete in the May 7-8 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Race Walk Team Championships in Cheboksary, Russia in an attempt to qualify.

In February, the IAAF confirmed that it is investigating Russian race-walking coach Viktor Chegin, who has coached eight race-walkers who have been sanctioned for doping in 2015. In December last year, the IAAF pledged to investigate allegations made in German television documentaries that systematic doping is occurring in Russia. At an April 2015 meeting, the IAAF appointed Cheboksary as host of the 2016 World Race Walk Team Championships in November 2014 – just before the German documentaries – and the IAAF Council approved the schedule in April this year.

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