Russian high jump icon’s husband cites Ukraine & Kenya in doping double standards
Russia has been hit with severe doping sanctions while countries such as Kenya and Ukraine have got off lightly, the sports journalist husband of Tokyo Olympic high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene has suggested.
Russia remains suspended by World Athletics, meaning stars such as three-time world champion Lasitskene can only compete as neutrals.
The sanctions were first imposed back in 2015 in the wake of allegations of a state-sponsored doping program run by Russia.
Lasitskene, 28, won gold in Tokyo under neutral status last summer.
At the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, Russian athletes will also be forced to compete without their nation’s flag or anthem due to punishments imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Russian officials have maintained that many of the allegations in recent years stem from an alternative agenda, leading ordinary athletes to suffer.
Russia is far from the only country to come to the attention of the doping authorities. Kenya, which is particularly renowned for producing distance-running stars, has also faced persistent allegations of widespread doping.
In October of last year, Ukraine’s anti-doping agency (NADC) was found by WADA to have consistently given athletes advance notice of test collections while deliberately mislabeling samples ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
The findings, which came after a two-year investigation, were forwarded to WADA’s compliance department to decide on possible sanctions and prompted the resignation of the head of the NADC and his deputy.
Over in the US, disgraced coach Alberto Salazar – who was head of the controversial Nike Oregon project – last year had his ban upheld for doping violations. Notable stars who had worked under Salazar such as British distance-running icon Mo Farah were not implicated in the investigation.
According to Russian sports journalist Vladas Lasitskas, husband of high jump star Lasitskene, the likes of Ukraine or the Kenyans have got off lightly when compared to the broader punishments Russia and its athletes have faced.
“Let’s look at the Kenyans… where are the sanctions for the whole country?” Lasitskas said in a recent interview with Match TV.
“The American coach Salazar was convicted of doping and expelled from everywhere. At the same time, the investigation showed that none of his charges – neither [Sifan] Hassan nor Mo Farah – were involved.
“Who did Salazar do all this for? Did he take it himself?
“It’s not that [Russia] is clean and fluffy. It’s clear that we’re guilty, although we deny it.
"However, in the last six years, things have turned in such a way that it is no longer just a fight against doping.
"Otherwise, it would have been conducted in different directions, and not just in one,” added Lasitskas.
“I don’t wish ill on Ukraine, but we see the situation with their anti-doping agency.
"It warned athletes about the tests, issued competitive tests for out-of-competition [tests].
“And no international reaction, although we [Russia] would have been shot for that. And [Mariya], whose fault is exactly zero, would again miss events.
“I support a tough fight against doping, but multi-pronged and fair.
"But we’re told: ‘This is different,’ although we’ve been in this subject for a long time and understand perfectly well: it’s the same thing.
“Officials are the same everywhere. And people. If you fight, fight, but don’t execute some while flirting with others,” said Lasitskas.
World Athletics prolonged its suspension of the Russian Athletic Federation (RUSAF) in November, although the Russian authorities are hopeful of finally being restored to full status in 2022.
In the meantime, it was confirmed this week that Lasitskene has submitted a request for neutral status to be eligible to compete at upcoming events.