CAS Upholds Stambolova, Veneva Doping Bans

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday upheld the suspensions of two of Bulgaria's Olympic medal hopefuls, high jumper Venelina Veneva and 400m sprinter, Vanya Stambolova, after the two were suspended for having tested positive for testosterone in an out-of-competition test in January 2007.

Both athletes, who share the same coach, Georgi Dimitrov, had their urine samples collected at an unexpected check during training in Budapest, Hungary on 24-January. Veneva also provided a further positive sample from an IAAF out-of-competition doping control conducted on 6-February in Sofia, Bulgaria.

"As far as the rules allowed us, we did our best to give the athletes a chance to prove their innocence," Bulgarian athletics federation president Dobromir Karamarinov said Tuesday.

"However, the court's decision is categorical and we accept it. Both athletes will miss the Beijing Games, but they will be able to compete again in April 2009."

Both athletes were provisionally suspended by the IAAF pending the result of the Bulgarian Athletic Federation's hearing on the two cases. The Bulgarian Athletic Federation cleared Stambolova and Veneva of doping violations in July in a controversial move, and forced the IAAF's Doping Review Board to take the case to the CAS.

The Bulgarian Athletic Federation stated they reversed the initial positive findings due to what they cited was incomplete analysis and "borderline" testosterone detection levels.

"When we received the positive result the 23rd of March, we asked them to even test the "B"-sample. The result was just on the border, and we have decided to not issue any sanctions," the Bulgarian news bureau Novonite quoted Karamarinov on as stating.

The International Association of Athletics Federations sent the case directly to CAS following the Bulgarian association's decision, citing that the decision was in opposition to existing IAAF protocol.

The IAAF made a formal statement on the issue, stating that all three samples collected from the two atheltes were analysed in the Lausanne WADA accredited laboratory where analysis of the urine samples were conducted by Isotope Ration Mass Spectrometry (IRMS).

The results of the IRMS conclusively established the administration of testosterone or its precursors. The "B"-sample analysis also confirmed the initial "A"-sample results, meaning that the two urine specimens collected at the same and split into two separate units both confirmed the same findings.

Though Karamarinov was optimistic that both athletes can return to competition in two years's time, the ban could signal the end of the 33-year-old Veneva's career. It also certainly puts in doubt her previous accomplishments over the past three years.

Veneva, who won silver at the 2006 European Championships in Göteborg in a highly charged and well-contested competition won by surprise winner Tia Hellebaut of Belgium, and bronze at the 2007 European indoor championships, has long been held under suspicion by her international colleagues, with world indoor record-holder, Kajsa Bergqvist, Veneva's staunchest critic.

Bergqvist became both relieved and glad when she learned that her rival, Veneva, was caught for doping with testosterone.

"I have suspected her for almost 10 years time," Bergvist stated to Swedish news agency TT.

"As [the way] she has set up her seasons and suddenly appeared at championships, I have understood that there was something shady. That she has finally gotten caught is an unbelievable relief, but one had hoped that it could have occured earlier," says Kajsa Bergqvist.

Veneva's having jumped very good heights early in the summer in non-major meets close to her home in either Bulgaria or Greece followed by not competing at all during the month or so leading up to the major championships led to part of the suspicion Bergqvist and other athletes had concerning Veneva.

Veneva was also regularly and conspicuously absent from the major Grand Prix and Golden League meets during the main part of the season where all the other top jumpers competed against each other.

The Golden League is a series of competitions the IAAF formed for the 1998 season to raise the profile of the leading athletics competitions in Europe. Athletes who compete in selected events - and win their event at all of the Golden League meetings - are qualified for a share of the $1Million jackpot offered.

The lucrative European Grand Prix circuit is where many athletes earn their living during their athletics careers, and one in which Veneva had earlier participated before shelving the international competitions for local ones with little or no competition... or drug testing.

The 24-year-old Stambolova was European champion in 2006, running 49,85 to defeat Russians Tatyana Veshkurova and Olga Zaytseva for the gold.

Stambolova holds four Bulgarian natiional records, and has a lifetime best in the 400m of 49,56 seconds - a mark she set in Rieti, Italy 17 days after her European title.

Stambolova's entire 2006 season will come into question as she set three of her national records (400m indoors, 400m outdoors and 400m hurdles) just months before her positive drugs test. She recorded a total of eight national all-time bests at the 400m distance in 2006, taking her personal best down from 52,99 to 49,53 -- unheard of in the 400m.

Veneva is the 11th-best female performer outdoors in the high jump at 2,04m. She has jumped a lifetime best of 2,02m indoors - the 13th-best performer. Country mate Stefka Kostadinova holds the world outdoor record of 2,09m set at the 1987 IAAF World Championships in Rome.

The CAS was created in 1984 and is placed under the administrative and financial authority of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS). The CAS has nearly 300 arbitrators from 87 countries, chosen for their specialist knowledge of arbitration and sports law. Around 200 cases are registered by the CAS every year.

Former 100m World Record-Holder Greene Retires

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Former five-time world sprint champion and former world record-holder Maurice Greene announced his retirment from track and field today following a spat of injuries which have derailed him for the past two seasons.

Greene, who twice set the world indoor 60m record (6,39) and holds the American 50m record (5,56) indoors, set the American 100m record (9,79) in Athens nine years ago.

Greene's 100m time still ranks among the top-5 on the world all-time list. Jamaican Asafa Powell (9,74) holds the current world-record.

Greene won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens along with a gold (100m) and bronze (4x100m) at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, but is best known for his 2001 100m victory at the IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Edmonton, where he ran a 9,82 after injuring himself half-way during the race - one he won over fellow American, Tim Montgomery.

Montgomery would later lower Greene's world record to 9,78 seconds, but would bes stripped of that honour following revelation that he had received and used performance-enhancing drugs from BALCO laboratories.

Greene, who was coached and trained by John Smith's HSI track club at UCLA, ran an incredible 52 races under the 10,00-second flat barrier -- one of the marks a by which world-class sprinters are gauaged to have been successful in their careers. Greene broke 10,00-flat every season between 1997 and 2004.

Greene also held a 19,86 best over 200m.

Tattooed on Greene's shoulder are the letters GOAT, an acronym for Greatest of All-time. Greene considered himself better than Jesse Owens, the American Olympian who won four gold medals at the 1936 Games in Berlin and Carl Lewis, the American who equalled that feat 48 years later at the Los Angeles Olympics.

Powell has since taken the world record from Greene and lowered it 0,05 seconds in becoming the World's Quickest Man. The World's Fastest Man, a title which is awarded the Olympic 100m champion, is Justin Gatlin, an American sprinter who once co-held the world record with Powell, but is now staving off drug allegations as he awaits a hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in New York.

Yet another American, Tyson Gay, is the current man to beat as the Beijing Olympics loom, having defeated Powell at last summer's IAAF World Outoor Championships. Gay has run 9,84 seconds over 100m - a time which equals the fourth best performers in history, and has the second-fastest 200m runner in world history (19,62) behind MIchael Johnson's world-record time of 19,32 set at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Greene, who hails from Kansas City, Kansas, finished his career 1-2 against Asafa Powell and 2-0 over Gay - though Gay won the adidas Classic in Carson, CA last summer in 9,79w - a final to which Greene failed to qualify.

Maurice Greene's seasonal bests throughout his professional career:

  • 50 m (Indoor)
    1996 5,71A

    1999 5,56 (American Record)

    60 m (Indoor)
    1997 6,54

    1998 6,39 (World Record)

    1999 6,40

    2000 6,45

    2001 6,39 (World Record)

    2003 6,50

    2004 6,61

    2005 6,54

    2007 27,70

    100 m
    1995 9,88w

    1995 10,19

    1996 10,08

    1997 9,86

    1998 9,79w

    1998 9,90

    1999 9,84w

    1999 9,79 (World Record)

    2000 9,86

    2001 9,82

    2002 9,88w

    2002 9,89

    2003 9,94

    2004 9,78w

    2004 9,87

    2005 10,01

    2006 10,35

    2007 10,84

    200 m
    1994 20,86

    1995 20,84

    1997 19,86

    1998 20,03

    1999 19,90

    2000 19,93w

    2000 20,02

    2003 20,16


Kallur Sets New NR, Chambers Wins in Comeback

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Dwain Chambers, the British sprinter on a comeback after a failed NFL career attempt, qualified for the UK National Indoor Championships 60m on Saturday by posting a winning time of 6,60 seconds at the Birmingham Games.

Chambers, 29, who detoured his athletics career in 2007 following a successful - yet controversial - comeback the previous year from a 2003 performance-enhancing drugs bust, has a tougher challenge ahead of him than attempting to win a race featuring a younger, stronger competitor in 21-year-old Craig Pickering, the 2005 European Junior 100m champion.

Chambers may not even make it to the starting blocks now that he's qualified for next weekend's national championships, because UK Athletics, the athletics governing body of Britain, does not want him to compete.

The 60m dash in Sheffield next weekend is the trials run for the IAAF World Indoor Championships, and the winner will be invited to participate next month in Valencia for Great Britain. Chambers, because he has not been on the official drug-testing register for more than a year, runs the risk of being left off the team.

Meanwhile, in Stuttgart yesterday evening, Sweden's Susanna Kallur, the 2006 European Champion and reigning IAAF Indoor 60m hurdles champion, set a new Swedish record in her speciality, running 7,72 seconds - the second-fastest ever run indoors - at the Sparkassan Cup.

It was the second time in less than a week the 26-year-old set a new personal best at this distance.

Russian Lyudmila Narozhilenko, who later became a Swedish national, set the world-record of 7,69 seconds in Chelyabinsk, Russia in 1990.

Kallur set her second-consecutive Swedish record this week, having run 7,75 at the Samsung Galan at Scandinavium in Göteborg, Sweden, on Tuesday evening, and broke Lyudmila Engquist's (formerly Nazorzhilenko) previous national mark of 7,80 seconds.

Kallur opened her season with a 7,81 mark in Glasgow two weekends ago.

Kallur, who has had a winter of injury-free training with her twin sister, Jenny, is reaping the rewards of consistency and a more focussed strength and conditioning schedule as she prepares for this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing. She holds a 12,49 second 100m hurdles best outdoors - a mark she achieved last summer in Berlin.

Kallur was injured for three months leading up to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and did not make it past the semi-finals. She also hopes to improve on her fourth-place finish from last season's IAAF World Outdoor Championships 100m hurdles final - a race she was winning until American Michelle Perry, the eventual winner, interfered with Kallur over the final hurdle and impeded Kallur's finishing drive.

The Kallur twins are no strangers to handling success. Their father Anders Kallur, the four-time Stanley Cup winner with the New York Islanders, is their manager. Jenny Kallur is skipping the 2008 indoor season.

In the final news of the hour, Russian André Silnov, the 2006 European Outdoor high jump champion, won his event at the Hochsprung Mit Musik high jump challenge in Arnstadt, Germany, yesterday, clearing 2,37m - the world's highest jump of the season. Stefan Holm, the reigning Olympic champion from Sweden, finished second in 2,35m. Silnov had one attempt at 2,39m and fouled twice at 2,41m.

Only nine other athletes in history have surpassed the 2,40m barrier which Silnov attempted to clear in Arnstadt. Holm is the last athlete who has cleared 2,40m indoors or outdoors since winning the 2003 European Indoor Championships in Madrid, Spain over Russian Jaraslov Rybakov, who finished third in Arstsadt yesterday (2,35m).

Cuban Javier Sotamayor holds the indoor and outdoor world records with jumps of 2,43m and 2,45m, respectively.