22 August 2019

Sergey Baulkin sanctioned with eight year ban for second offence

Russian race walker Sergey Baulkin (бакулин васильевич) has been sanctioned with an eight year ban for a second doping offence, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced. Based on analysis of his Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), Baulkin’s ban will run from 3 April 2019, and his results from 20 May 2018 until 3 April 2019 will be annulled.

The full Decision (PDF below) shows that Baulkin was sanctioned for ‘abnormalities in the haematological module’ of his ABP. Baulkin argued that the increase in haemoglobin concentrations in Sample 15 of 17, collected on 31 May 2018, were due to cessation of training for ten days due to a knee injury, for which he had received an injection of Ciprospan, a corticosteroid. 

An expert panel rejected these explanations as not plausible. This was partly due to photographs of Baulkin training posted on Instagram on 25 May, i.e. during the time in which he claimed he had been resting.

‘From a quantitative perspective the Tribunal finds that the Athlete’s Passport is more than merely abnormal’, reads the Decision. ‘It contains outliers at both 99% and even 99.9%. Notably, as stated in the Further Expert Panel Joint Opinion, the HGB value of 18g/dL in Sample 15 is an outlier at a specificity of 99.99% (i.e. 1 in 10,000) according to the Adaptive Model.’

Baulkin competed in the 2016 Russian Race Walking Cup in Sochi, following the expiration of his previous ban on 23 February 2016. Selective annulment of his results originally allowed him to keep his 50km race walk title at the Daegu 2011 IAAF World Championships, until a successful appeal by the IAAF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Baulkin finished first in the 35km race walk ahead of Sergey Kirdyapkin (Серге́й Кирдяпкин) at the 2016 Russian Race Walking Cup. Kirdyapkin was sanctioned with a three year and two month ban in 2015, which also followed analysis of his ABP. Although his offence related to ABP readings from 2009, selective annulment of his results allowed him to keep a London 2012 Gold Medal in the 50km race walk, until the IAAF’s successful appeal.

Former Russian race walking Coach, Viktor Chegin

Kirdyapkin’s estranged wife, Anisya Kirdyapkina (Анися Кирдяпкина), was sanctioned with a three year ban in February this year. She re-married in 2016 and now takes the name Makolova. All three athletes were coached by Moravian race walking coach Viktor Chegin (Виктор Чёгин), who was sanctioned with a lifetime ban by the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) in March 2016. Yet he continued to work with Russian race walkers until April 2018.

Chegin was filmed training Russian athletes on 27 April 2016 in the town of Adler, 10km from Sochi. Olga Kaniskina (О́льга Кани́ськина), Kirdyapkin and Elena Lashmanova (Елена Лашманова), who all signed an extraordinary letter of support for Chegin earlier that month, were pictured at the training session. 

In May 2018, the IAAF revoked the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) status of Klavdiya Afanasyeva, Olga Eliseeva, Yuliya Lipanova, Sergey Sharypov and Sergey Shirobokov, after finding that they had been coached by Chegin at an April 2018 training camp in Karakol in the Kyrgyz Republic. The five race walkers were prohibited from entering the 2018 IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships in Taicang, China.

Over 20 athletes trained by Chegin between 2005 and 2015 are understood to have been disqualified for doping. Chegin was provisionally suspended by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) on 25 August 2014, yet it did not launch an official investigation until 15 July 2015. RusAF did not remove him as Russia’s race walking coach until 16 July 2015.

Chegin was also  spotted coaching athletes at the 2014 European Athletics Championships in Zurich in August 2014, whilst provisionally suspended by RUSADA. Several of Chegin’s suspended athletes – including Bakulin, Lashmanova and Ekaterina Medvedeva – were spotted competing at the Mordovian race walking championships in December 2014. RusAF attempted to claim that the photos were from a 2012 event, however detective work by Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee uncovered that the shoes and uniforms worn in the photos were not available in 2012.

Until 2016, Chegin gave his name to the Olympic Preparation Centre of the Republic of Mordovia. Today, although the centre has changed its name to the Sports School of Olympic Reserve in Mordovia (СШОР – its Saransk postal address is the same), its internet site heavily references Chegin’s success. 

‘The story of the creation, progress and achievements of СШОР is definitely worth viewing through the prism of the V.M. Chegin Olympic Training Centre for Race Walking’, reads the site. ‘The athletes of the former Centre are now the backbone of СШОР achievements and they brought – and continue to bring – valuable rewards to Russia and Mordovia’. 

The site then lists the achievements of some of the race walkers he has coached, including Bakulin and Kirdyapkin. Interestingly, it still lists several of his walkers as Olympic or World Champions, with a note that they have been ‘deprived’ at a later date.

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