5th April 2019

Wife & husband charged with tampering with doping control

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has charged Kseniya Savina and her husband and coach, Aleksei Savin, with tampering and complicity. An AIU statement on Twitter (below) reveals that Russian middle distance runner Savina is already subject to a provisional suspension from June 2018, on a separate charge involving the presence of a prohibited substance in her sample. The AIU’s list of provisional suspensions reveals that this involves use of erythropoietin (EPO).

© Instagram (@galinasyshko). Syshko is pictured on the left; Savina on the right.

The AIU did not reveal any further details regarding the charges issued to Savina and her husband. However, in October last year, it launched an investigation after it emerged that Savina (Ксения Савина) had used the Ukrainian passport of her friend, Galina Syshko (Галина Сышко), to compete overseas eleven times in three years – including in meetings held in Belgium and The Netherlands. Both Savina and Syshko, grew up together in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. As such, both athletes were entitled to a Russian passport.

In November 2015, the IAAF suspended the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) due to allegations of systemic doping outlined in the first Report of the Independent Commission (IC) appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). This suspension, which remains in force today, means that athletes who fall under RusAF’s jurisdiction are prohibited from international competition. Savina therefore couldn’t use her Russian passport to compete overseas as she had been successful in international competitions. 

IAAF records for a Halyna Sishko…

This applied to Savina, but not to Syshko. The similarity between their names, as well as their similar appearance, facilitated the deception. Photographic evidence (Savina is reported to be Athlete 9032 in the picture heading this article) showed Savina competing overseas, and IAAF records for a Halyna Sishko show (see right), that she shaved 13 seconds off her 800m personal best at a tournament in Belgium during 2016, having not competed since 2011 (credit to Hilary Evans @OlympicStatman for spotting this).

‘As this is an ongoing case, we cannot comment on the specifics’, wrote an AIU spokesperson in an email. ‘However we can say that the notice of charge issued this week is on related issues’.

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