Press Briefing With Further Information on Russian Rowing Case
On 16 July 2007, a bag containing substances and pieces of medical equipment used for intravenous infusions was found in a garbage bin near the hotel of the Russian rowing team in Lucerne, Switzerland.
The bag was immediately taken to the WADA accredited laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland and analysed for substances as well as forensic evidence. Traces of blood found on the medical equipment were tested for DNA.
FISA then organized surprise out of competition blood sampling and urine testing on suspected Russian athletes who were taking part in a training camp in Trakai, Lithuania. These tests were conducted on 13 August, and all test results were negative. More Russian athletes were tested on 23 August and all results were negative. And finally on 29 August all remaining Russian rowers gave blood to FISA’s appointed testers.
FISA President Denis Oswald insisted “there were no positive tests and no prohibited substances. There was no blood doping and no injection of EPO. This is simply a case of intravenous infusions without medical justification.”
As soon as the first three athletes’ names were identified through their DNA, they were called in for an anti-doping hearing panel. This took place this week in Munich, during the World Championships. All the athletes admitted to the facts, and stated that they had acted alone, with no medical supervision.
FISA Rules state that if four or more doping offences from one national federation are revealed within a 12 month period, serious sanctions may be taken against the national federation. As the Russian rowing federation was already involved in a doping case at the end of 2006, such action could be considered. Possible sanctions include a competition ban of up to four years for the entire federation.
Should such a decision be taken, this would mean that there would be no Russian rowers at the Olympic Games in Beijing next year. “This”, says Oswald, “is something that I could imagine if it is in proportion to the offense. However, as it would also affect innocent athletes it is a decision which needs to be taken carefully and a full and in depth enquiry must be concluded.” The current investigation and the measures taken are under FISA authority.