Soboleva Earns My 2008 Female Indoor AOY Vote

Story written by Eric.

Last week-end's NCAA Championships officially closed the lid on the 2008 indoor season, and there were no shortage of great performances and record-setting marks accomplished around the globe by athletes on the elite level down to United States prep athletes who have yet to get much press or experience on the international stage.

Three women produced world records this season, and scores of other ones sprinted, jumped and leaned their ways to superlative marks which would have made headlines and captured votes on their own merits had the super elite failed to strike gold when it counted.

Yelena Soboleva, Susanna Kallur and Yelena Isinbayeva - names which reverberated from stadium to stadium this winter as they competed at their absolute bests this indoor campaign - each etched their names in the record annuals, and were each picked for gold in Valencia two week-ends ago when the entrants were declared.

Soboleva and Isinbayeva found favour and fortune on their side during the two-day event by coming up with victories.

Kallur, who led the world at 60m hurdles, had the untimely displeasure of becoming injured following her first-round heat and was never able to make it to the semi-finals, unfortunately, knocking her from the top of my personal AOY list despite her previously undefeated season and capturing three of the top-5 times ever recorded indoors in the event.

So that left the two Valencia teammates who share the same name, Yelena, up to take the honours.

Soboleva and Kallur started off the 2008 world-record chase by breaking all-time standards on 10-February, with Kallur, competing in Karlsruhe, knocking off a dubious hurdles record set 18 years and six days earlier by Ludmila Engquist - from whose dubious shadow she was attempting to run under.

Soboleva, on the other hand, knocked a few ticks off her own 1.500m world indoor record the same evening in Moscow.

The last of the record trio, Isinbayeva, competed six days later in Donetsk, Ukraine - a meeting site where she has earlier found vaulting nirvana, and set her third-consecutive world-record at the meet which vaulting legend Sergey Bubka had arranged.

The two athletes - tied at one world-record apiece - were even on paper, but one understands clearly that Isinbayeva, the superstar, having set her fourth world indoor record in as many years, was clearly ahead of her rival.

That was until Isinbayeva's next competition brought her back down to earth and behind Russian Svetlana Feofanova at Pedro's Cup in Bydgoszcz, Poland four days later, leaving Soboleva and Kallur undefeated prior to the world championships.

Soboleva, who finished the winter campaign with three personal bests, three national records and a world record to her credit, finished undefeated in five finals and contested one more meet than had Isinbayeva.

Soboleva earns my vote for Female Indoor Athlete of the Year for 2008 for twice bettering the previous 1.500m world indoor record (3.58,05 and 3.57,71); for netting the fourth-fastest mile ever recorded (4.20,21); and for demonstrating an incredible amount of resolve in taking two seconds from her previous 800m best at her national championships, running the fifth-fastest indoor time in history (1.56,49) - all without having run a step indoors last season.

Soboleva, a 25-year-old who competes for the Trade Unions club in Moscow, opened her 2008 compaign with a low-level 2.01,61 victory at the Moscow Challenge on 20-January.

Soboleva defeated Yekaterina Martynova, a 2.00,85 800m runner, by nearly two seconds in her first race since finishing four seconds down to Bahrain's Maryam Jamal in last September's World Athletics 1.500m final in Stuttgart.

The 800m time indicated Soboleva had decent fitness following an excellent outdoor campaign, and that she was on her way to perhaps a successful indoor campaign following a one-year hiatus from the winter season.

How much Soboleva would improve could never have been wildly guessed of one's life depended on it.

Soboleva, competing in her second indoor race in two years, contested the mile at the Russian Winter Games seven days later and demonstrated for both herself and her competitors that the world indoor 1.500m record-holder was at the top of the queue and may have genuinely had something incredible in store once the season picked up, clocking a national record time of 4.20,21.

Soboleva's achievement was history's fourth-fastest ever run, and the fastest since Romania's Doine Melinte set the current world indoor standard of 4.17,14 in February 1990.

Soboleva's outdoor best, 4.15,63, was set in Moscow in 2007.

Soboleva rested after her tiring mile and prepared to contest her national championships to again be held in Moscow 11 days later. She'd been entered in both the 800m and the 1.500m, and faced considerable competion in each event as single competitions, let alone coming in a double.

The 800m race was first.

Soboleva qualified first in her heat, running 1.59,56 - a time which wasn't completely taxing, but one which would take its toll on her by the time her 1.500m final was contested the following day. Waiting in the wings for an opportunity to strike at Soboleva's strength was Natalya Ignatova, who would run only 11/100 slower than Soboleva in the heats and qualify for the final.

Soboleva returned the following day to win the four-lap final with a very hard third 200m split, breaking apart from the field and powering home to a new personal best. Ignatova (1.58,84), Mariya Savinova (1.59,46) and Mariya Shapayeva (1.59,71) all set personal bests behind Soboleva, with the top-three each ending the season with the top marks in the world this year.

Being a world record-holder does not afford one an automatic gold medal - especially if one is contesting in the fiercely competitive Russian National Championships.

Soboleva would learn that lesson a few hours following her 800m victory, as 2006 World Indoor Champion and teammate Yuliya Fomenko attempted to run the legs off of Soboleva during the middle of the race.

Soboleva, who had considered dropping out of the 1.500m due to exhaustion, hung on in the race and drew from the well one final time to rush home and stop the clock in 3.58,05 - 0,23 faster than the world record she had set two years earlier.

Five of the nine women in the field set personal bests.

Soboleva travelled to Valencia rested and barely trained following a short, yet very intense, period of racing in February which had tired her.

The 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships 1.500m final generated the top-level excitement and energy fans had come to expect and anticipate, with Fomenko and Soboleva taking care of business up front and pushing each other up the 1.400m mark where Soboleva ultimately pulled away and ran away from her nearest three rivals in fast pursuit.

Soboleva's world record-setting performance (3.57,71) dragged Fomenko (3.59,41), Ethiopia's Gelete Burika (3.59,75) and Jamal (3.59,79) under the four-minute barrier, with all four women setting personal bests, and three of them new national bests in the process.

No woman in 2008 had the impact on the sport, the record books, their nation and their fellow competitors like Yelena Soboleva did. She inspired her comeptitors to run at their fullest capabilities, and she came out on the victorious end in the three races which counted most to her: her national championships and the world championships.

Yelena Soboleva just may take off 2009 as she did 2007 following a long season, but 2008 will leave memories far and deep to last several seasons over.

Croatia's Blanka Vlasic would have gotten a strong nudge at Soboleva's level had she been able to tie or break Kajsa Bergqvist's 2.08m world-record. She will receive an honourable mention, instead.

Yelena Soboleva's Personal Records:
  • 800m indoors: 1.56,49 NR
  • 800m outdoors: 1.57,28
  • 1.500m indoors: 3.57,71 WR
  • 1.500m outdoors: 3.56,43
  • Mile indoors: 4.20,21 NR
  • Mile outdoors: 4.15,63
Yelena Soboleva's 2008 Season:
  • 2.01,61 Moscow Open Championships
  • 4.20,21 Russian Winter
  • 1.59,56 (Q) Russian National Championships
  • 1.56,49 Russian National Championships
  • 3.58,05 Russian National Championships
  • 4.07,85 (Q) IAAF World Championships
  • 3.57,71 IAAF World Championships


Dick Pound's Righteous Fury Causes Lawsuit

Story written by Eric.

You either appreciate his hard stance or you don't.

Richard "Dick" Pound's subtlety has on more occasion than not been in serious deficiency, and he's been warned by athletes and their attorneys as well as entire sporting entities alike to pipe down on his negativity toward them without having proof to substantiate claims they had either complicitly participated in on-going doping or were covering it up.

Pound had even backed himself and WADA into corners at times due to his brazen style and in-your-face manner of speaking.

Pound has been a one-man marching band who's played a tune which strikes out hardly and loudly out at suspected drug-takers, and he has not been shy at defending a set of values to which he upholds the insitution of sport.

He has bumped heads with Marion Jones, and he's clawed and boxed against the entire sport of cycling, stating on occasion that they - like USATF (the American track and field governing body) - had been slow in dealing with apparently open problems within their sport and had not acted in good time to prevent further scandal from breaking out.

Pound's unrelenting nature has gotten him into an issue with UCI, who, on Thursday, released a statement that it was suing Pound before Swiss courts for "continual injurious and biased comments" against world cycling's ruling body and its president Hein Verbruggen.

"On many occasions Mr Pound has publicly questioned the extent of the UCI's efforts in the fight against doping," the short statement concluded.

"He shoots any target he can, left and right. I'm fed up of him discrediting my athletes," Verbruggen once stated of Pound following the 2003 L'Equipe leak which stated the way riders were notified about being tested allowed room for cheating.

Pound appears to be facing issues stemming from his having questioned the UCI's willingness to fully investigate a 2005 L'Equipe's accusation that Lance Armstrong doped and wondering whether UCI was merely looking to accuse UCI and use it as a "scapegoat."

Pound may (not) deserve the lawsuit he’s believed to have brought upon himself, this despite having been construed as being a brash, take-no-prisoners dictator. His goal is now - and has always been - to keep sport clean, even as he attempts to head to the vacant Court of Arbitration for Sport position open.

Pound believes in clean sport, but has less belief in athletes' ability to play within the rules - and between the lines.

"Here’s the deal," he says.

"The shot-put weighs this much. The race is so many laps long. You can’t hollow out your shot-put and make it 12 pounds instead of 16. You don’t start before the gun. Run 11 laps instead of 12.

"And part of the deal is don’t use these drugs. It’s kind of an affirmation when you show up at the starting line. You are making an affirmation that you are playing the game the way it is supposed to be played.”

Pound may have had justice on his side through WADA as far as world-wide disciplining is concerned, but the UCI is taking Pound to a justice department in Switzerland for disciplinary procedures for flapping off at the mouth - a tool which he has used to state in no uncertain terms that he has believed the USA had drug issues it had swept under the rug.

Pound has made no secret that he believes the USA is involved in cover-ups, especially when it comes to Carl Lewis having tested positive for low levels of drugs found in Sudafed, and being permitted to participate in the 1988 Olympics, nonethless.

Pound considers the Lewis affair one of an anti-doping violation, and Lewis' participation in Seoul illegal.

Pound, engaging the United States directly – one of his biggest targets in the fight against doping due to what can be perceived as cover-ups, sounded off in a New York Times piece dated 2007-January-7, stating:

“There aren’t too many people who are prepared to point the finger at America and say: ‘Hey, take off the [expletive] halo. You’re just like everybody else.’ That’s a problem in America. America has a singular ability to delude itself.”

On another occasion last year, Pound told the UK Telegraph:

"It's a matter of confronting cheating when you see it," he says.

"There is organised cheating going on and it's not going to go away if we all hold hands and say 'ummmm'. These are people who know the rules and in 99.9 per cent of cases they don't give a shit about them. They're destroying sport and taking rewards away from fellow athletes.

"If you're not being confrontational, you're not doing your job. Being confrontational, you're going to attract some static. It's like when you're fighting. The most dangerous time for any boxer is when he's just scored a very good punch. It's the retaliation you've got to look out for. I'm happy to be known by my enemies. Nobody who is playing fair is mad at me."

One question which arises, however, is what kind of fingerprint he wants to leave on the sport of athletics, and what kind of legacy he will have left imprinted on sport in general if UCI has their way and has a muzzle put on Pound.

Pound has an opportunity to help rid the sport of cheats and uncover the other BALCO types out there, namely other lines of chemists, coaches, athletes and trainers who are involved in doping schemes hidden to the outer circle looking in.

He has changed a bit over the past year, meeting Victor Conte in January and going over war stories and strategies to build a better, more viable drug-testing method to test the crooks.

However, if he continues pressing on at all costs in a solo fashion - destroying chains of command in the process - folks will be less than willing to point him in the right direction, and he may be taken to town again by less enthusiastic folks than UCI.

Sport, according to the ancient Greek tradition, was broken down into two elements within the participants: the harmonious development of mind of body - agon, if you will, and arête - the conscious ideal of perfection.

Athletics - along with other sports within the Olympic movement - can be restored to a more even playing ground where athletes are competing clean over time, and the harmony between the pursuers and those pushing the envelop to cheat is smoothed out.

As more wisdom is applied to the fight against doping, and athletes are held even more accountable for their crimes against the sport, fans can appreciate sport for what it is: entertainment and excellence.

In order to effect this change - where mind and body develops naturally in the absence of drugs, Dick Pound would be of better service if he continues his fight quietly - away from the headlines - and not create a perception of being a one-man show.

If he is unsuccessful, and his desire to stand at the centre can not be quashed, folks will lose faith in the organisation as a whole - when it is Pound with whom they have their disagreement.

One thing is for certain, however, Pound, a tax attorney, won't be afraid to stand before a court full of his peers.

Pound photo #2 courtesy of Wired Magazine


IAAF Says Only Three Percent Flunk Doping Tests in 2007

Story written by Eric.

The International Asociation of Athletics Federations stated on Thursday that roughly three out of every 100 athletes tested both in and out-of-competition failed doping tests conducted under its jurisdiction in 2007.

According to IAAF records, 3.277 urine samples were collected from the period of 1-January to 31-December 2007, with 1.759 sampled from place out-of-competition (OOC) tests by 749 athletes, 1.426 from athletes selected during a competition event, and 92 urine+ EPO samples taken pre-competion.

The IAAF state that 164 athletes received four or more OOC tests, 66 received 6 or more, and 18 received 8 or more. The IAAF is unable to reveal the indentities of those who have been tested most frequently, but did state that one athlete had 12 OOC test performed on them last year.

Americans Sanya Richards, Leonard Scott, LaShawn Merritt, Deena Kastor, Ryan Hall, Tyson Gay, Damu Cherry, Marcus Brunson and Xavier Carter were all tested at least four times according to the information provided in the IAAF report.

Athletes from Russia, Kenya and the United States were the three highest-tested groups, but of the 10 athletes whom the IAAF publicly stated tested positive last year, the biggest names involved were Bulgarian 400m sprinter Vania Stambolova and her teammate Venelina Veneva, a high jumper.

Both Bulgarian athletes -- who share the same coach, Georgi Dimitrov -- had their urine samples collected at an unexpected check during training in Budapest, Hungary on 2007-January-24, and had them later turn up with positive traces of testosterone. Veneva also provided a further positive sample from an IAAF OOC doping control conducted on 2007-February-6 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

IAAF president Lamine Diack, praised the IAAF's efforts in a statement released today.

"I am proud that the IAAF continues to conduct one of the world's largest out-of-competition testing programs," he said.

"And the crucial importance of this is shown in the fact that the majority of our positive results are found in this form of testing."

The great majority of the tests conducted in 2007 done during times where competition schedules are at their peak, with 983 of the tests (30%) conducted at the spring season and 1.321 (40,3%) conducted during the summer season.

The remaining 29,7% of the tests were conducted primarily in the late winter (18,7%), and the remaining 359 samples collected 1-October to 31-December.


Victor Conte was the posterboy for cheating.

Where there was a will, there was a syringe and a calendar to make the way. The former BALCO founder helped propel many an athlete up and over the top, and to a crashing halt once they were discovered to have cheated and deceived their ways to the top.

Since his release from prison and home-confinement, his pitch has changed over the past two years from supporting a premise that one must cheat to win to stating that the current state of testing for performance-enhancing drugs is unacceptable, because the testers are completely off key in their pursuit of the cheaters.

If the IAAF are happy with their testing measures, and the IOC believe that there will be a bonafide Human Growth Hormone (HGH) test in place by the time athletes are ready to compete in Beijing, who among those speaking is actually right?

There may be a viable test on its way to head off cheats in Beijing, but Conte's assertions have been that the testers are attempting to get to the athletes at the wrong times of the year - a point he discussed with former WADA head Dick Pound at a meeting earlier this year.

The IAAF have not broken their historical data down by quarters, rather by years - most of which have not been calendar years, but fiscal ones.

It is difficult to ascertain with any certainty whether or not the IAAF have been surprising more athletes at off-peak times, but Veneva and Stambolova were two prime athletes who were OOC tested during such time and were caught with illegal substances in their bodies.

Nevertheless, of the nine cases the IAAF have stated brought to light, five of the OOC specimens were collected and tested Q1 (1-January to 31-March) in 2007. Two athletes flunked their drug tests in Q3 (1-July to 30-September), and two failed their tests in Q2 just ahead of the summer season.

Salbutamol (12-month ban); rh-EPO (2-year ban); Prostanozol Testosterone (2-year ban); and six cases of Testosterone (2-year ban) were the drugs of choice named in the anti-doping offences.

The 10 confirmed cases the IAAF have discussed are far shorter than the number of cases on their 2007 sanctions list, however, as 55 athletes appear on the list, with Marion Jones the sole member who didn't fail an actual test in 2007.

Moreover, the IAAF have not yet indicated athletes who have failed "A"-sample tests and are having their cases reviewed and/or arbitrated, as is their best-business practice.

Two world record-holders fall into that category, one with an indoor distinction and the other an outdoor event contender. Both have been mentioned by their athletics federations, and the information is available with the use of a search engine.

The IAAF, however, have not made that information readily available to the public on its pages dedicated specifically to anti-doping.

IAF anti-doping measures were at their near peak in 2007, with doping control officers taking 3.277 samples, or only 127 fewer than they did in 2003 -- a world championships year.

There should be no speculation or inferences in who has been tested any given number of times, as several of the aforementioned Americans either won a national title (Drossin and Hall) or were in every IAAF Golden League competition (Richards) in 2007.


The IAAF does not make a distinction as to when any athlete is tested.

USADA, the national testing agency in America, does make a testing history available, however.

USADA selects track and field athletes to test in an OOC based on an automated draw that considers a number of factors, including the athlete's ranking in the sport, their risk of doping and test their previous test history.

LaShawn Merritt and Michelle Collins were each tested 11 times in 2007, followed Mary Wineberg (10) and Reese Hoffa, who were selected for 10 tests, respectively.

Merritt came off the best season of his life in 2007, winning a silver medal at the World Championships in Osaka (43,96) and becoming the ninth athlete in world history to break the 44,00-flat barrier.

Collins has been fighting a previous drug charge which has since gone back into arbitration by the IAAF.

Wineberg had a break-through season in which the then 27-year-old lowered her 400m personal record down to a very respectable 50,24 and was part of the gold medal-winning 4x400m quartet which defeated Russia in Osaka, and Hoffa was the 2006 USA national indoor and world indoor shot put champion.

There have been 24.829 IAAF anti-doping tests conducted on athletes from 2000-2007 - an average of 3.103 each year. If the number of cheaters are, indeed, reducing in numbers, the IAAF can hold its head high and claim to be catching the leaders in the cheating game.

Unfortunately, Marion Jones was able to escape unscathed more than 150 times behind a wall of deception throughout her career, so to state that the testing system works and is a suggestion that athletes today are less apt to take drugs is not entirely true.

Athletes Sanctioned for a Doping Offence in 2007:
  • ADEOYE, Susan Olufunke (NGR), In Competition 05.07.07, Ephedrine*, Public Warning & Disqualification
  • AJJAJI, El Mokhtar (MAR), In Competition 18.03.07, Stanozolol Strychnine Norandrosterone, 3 years ineligibility from 22.06.07 - 21.06.10
  • BALSEN, Julien (FRA), In Competition 09.12.06, Prednisone* Prednisolone*, 6 months ineligibility from 12.07.07 - 11.01.08
  • BELL, Kenta (USA), In Competition 24.06.07, Methylprednisolone*, Public Warning and 3 months deferment
  • BOTEZAN, Mihaela (ROM), In Competition 28.04.07, Chlorthalidon, 2 years ineligibility from 17.10.07 - 16.10.09
  • CHEPKEMEI, Susan (KEN), IAAF OOC 10.09.07, Salbutamol, 1 years ineligibility from 19.10.07 - 18.10.08
  • CHESANI, Silvano (ITA), In Competition 26.08.07, Formeterol*, Public Warning & Disqualification
  • DEHIBA, Hind (FRA), IAAF OOC 23.01.07, rh-EPO, 2 years ineligibility from 16.02.07 - 15.02.09
  • DENISOVA, Lyubov (RUS), IAAF OOC 20.03.07, Prostanozol Testosterone, 2 years ineligibility from 27.04.07 - 26.04.09
  • FILIPPIDIS, Konstantinos (GRE), In Competition 16.06.07, Etilephrine, 2 years ineligibility from 11.07.07 - 10.07.09
  • FORTES ANDRE, Bruno Miguel (POR), In Competition 11.02.07, Cannabis**, 2 years ineligibility from 15.03.07 - 14.03.09
  • GAUTHIER, Franck (FRA), In Competition 09.04.07, Heptaminol*, Public Warning & Disqualification from 20.07.07 - 19.10.07
  • IVANOVA, Alena (BLR), In Competition 14.07.07, Furosemide, 2 years ineligibility from 06.08.07 - 05.08.09
  • JAYSUNA, Saidy (NOR), In Competition 28.06.07, Cannabis*, Public Warning & Disqualification
  • JIMLA, Omar (MAR), In Competition 15.04.07, rh-EPO, 3 years ineligibility from 31.05.07 - 30.05.10
  • JONES, Marion (USA), admission of use of a prohibited substance, 2 years ineligibility from 08.10.07 - 07.10.09
  • JOSEPH, Jasmine (IND), In Competition 12.02.07, Nandrolone, 2 years ineligibility from 07.05.07 - 06.05.09
  • KAOUCH, Adil (MAR), In Competition 13.07.07, rh-EPO, 2 years ineligibility from 08.08.07 - 07.08.09
  • KECHI, Héni (FRA), In Competition 19.06.07, Cannabis*, 3 months ineligibility from 09.10.07 - 08.01.08
  • KEHLER, Lisa (GBR), In Competition 07.07.07, Terbutaline*, Public Warning & Disqualification
  • KEITA, Naman (FRA), IAAF OOC 20.08.07, Testosterone, 2 years ineligibility from 01.09.07 - 31.08.09
  • KHANFARI, Ahmadreza (IRI), In Competition 08.05.07, Stanozolol, 2 years ineligibility from 31.05.07 - 30.05.09
  • KOCABAS, Jonathan (BEL), In Competition 23.06.07, Cannabis*, Public Warning & Disqualification
  • KOLAROVA, Teodora (BUL), IAAF OOC 26.06.07, Testosterone, 2 years ineligibility from 10.08.07 - 09.08.09
  • KONEVA, Yekaterina (RUS), In Competition 14.02.07, Testosterone, 2 years ineligibility from 23.03.07 - 22.03.09
  • KRAVCHENKO, Olesya (RUS), In Competition 07.02.07, Stanozolol, 2 years ineligibility from 20.02.07 - 19.02.09
  • KUMAR, Gajendra (IND), In Competition 11.02.07, Mephentermine, 2 years ineligibility from 14.07.07 - 13.07.09
  • KYYRO, Mikko (FIN), In Competition 05.08.07, Methylprednisolone*, Public Warning & Disqualification
  • LACASSE, Florent (FRA), IAAF OOC 18.05.07, Testosterone, 2 years ineligibility from 13.07.07 - 12.07.09
  • LEWANSKI, Mikolaj (POL), In Competition 30.06.07, Cannabis*, Public Warning & Disqualification from 30.06.07
  • LING, Peng (CHN), National OOC 19.09.07, Methandienone, 4 years ineligibility from 08.10.07 - 07.10.11
  • LIPSCOMBE, Jesse (CAN), In Competition 12.05.07, Ephedrine*, 6 months ineligibility from 16.08.07 - 15.02.08
  • MAHDAVI, Seyed Shahrokh (IRI), National OOC 20.10.07, Methandienone, 2 years ineligibility from 20.11.07 - 19.11.09
  • MOSAZADEH, Kavian (IRI), In Competition 24.05.07, Norandrosterone, 2 years ineligibility from 25.06.07 - 24.06.09
  • MUCERINO, Giuseppe (ITA), In Competition 11.03.07, Tuaminoheptame*, Public Warning & Disqualification
  • NIKODEM, Dawid (POL), In Competition 27.01.07, Cannabis*, 6 months ineligibility from 27.01.07 - 26.07.07
  • PAYNE, Jamie (TRI), In Competition 17.03.07, Stanozolol Testosterone, 2 years ineligibility from 22.05.07 - 21.05.09
  • PINTO, Luzia Souza (BRA), In Competition 01.04.07, Sibutramine*, Public Warning & Disqualification
  • RAVI PINTO, Rosalba (ITA), In Competition 25.03.07, Furosemide, 2 years ineligibility from 05.07.07 - 04.07.09
  • SANCHEZ-REY, Pablo Lopez (ESP), In Competition 06.05.07, 13.05.07, Nandrolone, 2 years ineligibility from 30.07.07 - 29.07.09
  • SAVI, Stefano (ITA), In Competition 31.07.07, Cannabis*, 2 months ineligibility from 05.11.07 - 04.01.08
  • SECHNEV, Yuriy (RUS), In Competition 06.10.07, Stanozolol, 2 years ineligibility from 20.11.07 - 19.11.09
  • SEGATO, Marco Francesco (ITA), In Competition 25.02.07, hCG, 2 years ineligibility from 14.06.07 - 13.06.09
  • SEVUKTEKIN, Yahya (TUR), Tampering or attempting to tamper with doping control (Rule 32.2e), 2 years ineligibility from 11.04.07 - 10.04.09
  • SHMAGAYLO, Vadim (RUS), In Competition 21.04.07, Norandrosterone, 2 years ineligibility from 25.05.07 - 24.05.09
  • SIHAMMANE, Abdeljabbar (MAR), In Competition 07.01.07, Furosemide, 2 years ineligibility from 20.02.07 - 19.02.09
  • SLEPOV, Aleksander (RUS), In Competition 09.06.07, Stanozolol, 2 years ineligibility from 03.07.07 - 02.07.09
  • STAMBOLOVA, Vania (BUL), IAAF OOC 24.01.07, Testosterone, 2 years ineligibility from 10.04.07 - 09.04.09
  • TURSKIS, Tomas (LTU), In Competition 15.09.07, Nandrolone, 2 years ineligibility from 04.12.07 - 03.12.09
  • UUDMÄE, Jaanus (EST), In Competition 23.06.07, Sibutramine*, Public Warning & Disqualification
  • USLU, Binnaz (TUR), IAAF OOC 13.03.07, Testosterone, 2 years ineligibility from 24.03.07 - 23.03.09
  • VENEVA, Venelina (BUL), IAAF OOC 24.01.07, Testosterone, 2 years ineligibility from 03.04.07 - 02.04.09
  • WANG, Yaqi (CHN), National OOC 22.08.07, Nandrolone, 2 years ineligibility from 11.09.07 - 10.09.09
  • ZOLADKIEWICZ, Christin (GER), National OOC 07.09.07, Refusal, 2 years ineligibility from 30.10.07 - 29.10.09
  • ZOUBAA, Khalid (FRA), In Competition 27.01.07, rh-EPO, 3 years ineligibility from 22.02.07 - 21.02.10

* = substance which was classified on the WADA 2007 Prohibited List as a "Specified Substance" and as such may result in a reduced sanction
** = Second offence

Doping statistics and list of offenders courtesy of IAAF.


Carolina Klüft Gives Stamp of Disapproval

Story written by Eric.

Carolina Klüft has electrified souls with her positive energy and incredibly deep well of enthusiasm, and she has penetrated interest in a two-day event which few people around the globe really ever paid attention to prior to her reign at the top in all honesty.

She has taken laps of honour with a sorority of women who've crawled across the finish line one final time following the seven events which make up the heptathlon, and she has felt a oneness with them both in spirit and in exhaustion.

That electricity and buzz which the world has come to expect of "Carro" as we call her here in Sweden began to die down to infrequent pulses of energy following her third-consecutive IAAF World Outdoor last season, and Klüft, who is a staunch supporter of one taking the opportunity to follow their dreams, began to dream of how far she could leap through the air and land in a sand pit rather than how far she could fling a javelin or how fast she could run 800m.

She'd considered throwing in the towel after setting her personal best and establishing a new European record (7032 points) in Osaka, but to say that a woman who hasn't lost a heptathlon competition since 2001 is "throwing in the towel" is to speak falsely.

Carolina Klüft has simply lost motivation for contesting the heptathlon after winning everything there is to gain in this sport.

Olympic medal? She has one. Two would be great, and she'd be a near certainty to keep her unbeaten streak alive in Beijing had she decided to keep at it for one final hurrah.

But, she's opting for other events, and will watch from the side-lines and read results on the internet as her competitors stake claim to medal opportunities they may have once wished to get, but now smell as the months draw closer.

World outdoor titles? Carro won her first one in 2003, and followed up her senior barrage of honours collected with titles in 2005 and 2007.

World indoor championships? She has a global pentathlon title earned in 2003. As a matter of fact, Klüft has won two European indoor championships, two European outdoor ones and has taken home a European Cup title as well.

Carolina Klüft has flown around the world to contest events in front of crowds which grew exponentially as her fame and stature did, and she'd always had a sense of positive learning experiences to go with the utter exhaustion it takes to command victory against the best in the world time and time again.

She felt happy to be on the field and to line up on the track; she was having the time of her life, it looked like, and the 25-year-old seemed destined to spend several more years at the top if she simply wanted to.

Desire and motivation are two key words which had been associated with Klüft through the years following her 2001 European Junior title and her two World Junior records set in 2002 - one indoors, one outdoors.

Where there was an event to contest and a good time to have, Carro would show up and strike gold - not simply with the type of medal she would take home, but with her competitors whom she inspired, the fans whom she entertained and the journalists like me whom she always seemed to provide the most simple and basic words to sum up her characteristics for success, namely that she was out to "have fun".

Fun and games were great for a girl from Växjö who had the world at her fingertips, Reebok on her feet and a competitive schedule which only called for two to three major events per year.

Carolina Klüft is a married woman now and has moved home to a location outside of Karlskrona on the southern tip of Sweden with a beautiful archipelago. Part of her idea of fun has, naturally, become shopping for items which fit the decor in her home, and to be a good wife to a husband whose pole vaulting career was cut far short due to a persistant injury.

Klüft still supports kids in Africa through UNICEF, and she still finds time to be an ambassador to fighting hunger and poverty through a number of personal initiatives which she feels are very important in life.

In short, the reigning Olympic heptathlon champion has grown up in the four years since she travelled to Athens to tackle on fiercely competitive rivals in a four-year cycle where victory spells out large bonuses and lucrative contracts. She took on the world then, and can take them on now - though in a different set of events which she really enjoys "having fun": the long jump and the triple jump.

However sad this state of events could appear to fans who'd hoped Carro would give it one more go in the heptathlon, Klüft may find herself waiting at home this summer instead of mixing it up with rivals in different events.

The Swedish Olympic Committee stated today that Klüft must qualify for the Olympic Games and show top form within the next three months - a tall order for Klüft, but not an impossible one for a woman who has jumped 6,97m in the long jump and stated she's breached the 15.00m barrier in the triple jump in practice.

Klüft's official best at the hop-skip-and jump event is 14.02m, but it's best not to be fooled into thinking that a woman on a mission to show the world that changing events has not changed her desire to have fun and compete well will not succeed where she puts her mind, her focus and her willpower.

First things first, however.

"We're not taking back her pre-selection, but we need to see if we get the opportunity to confirm that in the end of June," says Peter Reinebo, Swedish Olympic Committee's sports boss.

"Just like everyone else, she must show that she is following her plan. In her case, it means that she needs to show results in a new event. That is our position, but we are counting on and hoping that she will make it."

Klüft stated during a press conference held in Växjö today that she is planning on getting a berth to Beijing, and would never have made a decision to give up the heptathlon had she not believed in her ability to fight among the leaders in the long jump pint.

"I would never have made this decision if I did't hope and believe that I would take myself to the Olympics," she stated.

"That is what I am pointing toward very hard."

"Now I am looking forward to something else and have rediscovered my motivation. It's risky, I know, but it just seems so right," she told Svenska Dagbladet.

Kelly Sotherton looks to be the beneficiary to this risky Klüft decision, as the oft bridesmade can finally step up and let the Olympics be hers and teammate Jessica Ennis' to shine. Tanya Lebedeva will inherit Klüft as a serious competitor of hers in the long jump - though not as a fierce rival, as Carro has never never been a top-3 placer on the world list in her career.

Carolina Klüft set a new personal, Swedish and European record in the heptathlon last summer, scoring higher (7032 points) in history than everyone except the legendary Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who has the standing world record of 7291 and has five marks better than Klüft's best.

Klüft hadn't set a personal record in the overall combined events for three-consecutive seasons dating back to her break-through performance in Paris St. Denis, when, in 2003, she scored 7001 points and won her first world championship title five months shy of her 20th birthday.

Some folks wondered during the three seasons leading up to Osaka if Klüft was tiring of winning an event devoid of any real contenders to dethrown her from any of her global crowns.

Klüft was still out there having fun, holding her competitors' hands and pulling them along for a collective victory lap after thrashing both mind and body against the same people - her friends, but she appeared to have hit a stalemate along her path to supremacy.

Her scores began to demonstrate that even untimely, freak injuries may prevent her from ever reaching the pinnacle of her career as a new world record-holder. She could still defeat all comers, even at less than her best, and questions arose about her motivation even before she revealed that she was left in want in that department.

Klüft put all of that to bed last summer when she took Japan by storm, setting a new personal best in the high jump during the heptathlon -- 1.95m -- and reversing a trend in which her season's best worsened each year from 2004-2006. She put her best foot forward and put up a number on the scoreboard which was better than anyone in the world not named Jackie Joyner-Kersee had ever been able to achieve.

Then came the bombshell, and finally the explosion.

Klüft, coming down from the high which surrounded this particular effort, never fully gained an appreciation for this victory. She felt like chasing and catching the record was "finally over", but didn't feel the inner gladness she usually did when hoisting her hands high, standing on the highest podium spot and listening to Du Gamla, Du Fria play across a stadium reverent in silence as the golden girl listened to words about wanting to live and die in the North.

Carolina Klüft's dreams have lived on in a fairy-tale world where no borders could keep her from reaching the potential she demonstrated as a junior. Her continued efforts in the sport may be spared a shot of athletics death as she puts her mind to her tasks and climbs up another ladder.

She was bullied as a child and called a geek. She won't be bullied by a selection process in place to separate Olympic hopefuls from their Olympic dreams.

Carolina Evelyn Klüft has stamped her approval on a new venture this season, and will reach as far as her willpower, drive and determination take her. Her enthusiasm and energy will continue to compliment her, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see her on the medal stand next to Irina Simagina and Naide Gomez in the long jump.

The Swedish Olympic Committe is counting on it, because last year at this time, they were counting on Carro to win an almost guaranteed one in Beijing. Carro's fans are expecting it. Swedish track and field is dependent on it, as the loss of Kajsa Bergqvist to retirement in December and Stefan Holm likely following in her footsteps at season's end being two very big holes to fill despite Emma Green and Linus Thörnblad taking their own turns at future stardom.

Most importantly, however, Carro is counting on making a positive impact in the summer months, and inspiring herself and her rivals to achieve great marks as they play in the sandbox.

Foto: Magnus Wennman

Planes, Trains and Too Much Time On the Hands

Story written by Eric.

I’m cruising high above the ocean – Amsterdam is supposed to be somewhere to my right, and there is nothing but a dark cloud of sky on the left of the plane. The sky seems to go on and on, as does this journey, and I’m only headed home from England.

Somewhere down below before the pilot jetted us into an atmosphere where the outside temperature is -45C outside my plastic window, I saw a few ants circling a track. Then I saw a few more.

It’s going to be nice to enter back into my normal time zone and back into a regular groove.

I’ve been gone exactly 36 hours, and it’s not like I’ve not done this before. In fact, I’ve now gone up and down 42 times over the past 16 months everywhere across Europe for work, for play, and even to catch a meet or three.

In fact, I’ve been doing this every year for the past five and counting, and haven’t found it to my liking yet to live out of my suitcase, pack down my gear and dine out or take-away.

This particular day reminds me of a conversation I had with a very good American 800m runner on a European flight quite a few years back, and got me thinking about how athletes spend days, nights, weeks and even months away from home slaving away at their sport from one venue to the next – travelling from one airport to another and, as it turns out, usually alone.

The most demanding part of travelling – to me – is standing in an airport queue waiting to be checked in, crawling through the security (despite a priority pass) and waiting the two hours between check-in and departure with nothing but time on my hands.

Imagine what it must be like for an athlete travelling thousands of kilometres from home to chase a qualifying mark or collect a bonus payment for putting their name and their spikes down on a track a meet organiser promises fans will bring plenty of action and an excellent performance.

The American runner said it wasn’t that bad.

“Not that bad” to me indicates that it is somewhat bad, but the female, who had broken 2.00 in the 800m run, didn’t want to sound like she was complaining. She had, for that matter, only met me – a stranger in an airplane who had recognised her from a magazine cover – a few minutes earlier at the front of the queue. And that was after I had bugged her whilst she was attempting to pass time by reading a book.

Stefan Holm reads a lot of books. He has a daily blog on his homepage where he tells his faithful readers along with anyone who happens to stumble across the site – scholm.com – what the flavour of the week is in exciting reading. Naturally he, like the lightening-quick 800m standout, has time – and much of it – to kill each and every day during the season.

So where were we again… yes, the top of the line waiting patiently for someone wearing a uniform to stop taking a break, log in to their computer, and give us the okay sign that all was good to go.

The 800m is a great race to watch, no? There are so many different tactics which can be employed during a two-lap race that it makes it very difficult at times to predict a winner before the first athlete crosses the finish line. This particular person had excellent 400m speed before she joined the middle distance fraternity and earned a partial cover spot with a woman who once thanked her dog for being an inspiration to her winning performance in a national championship. If you’re fast, you’re fast, I suppose, and certain things are easily overlooked.

An itinerary isn’t one of those things, however, which one can skip over and play things by ear. Three months away from home demands the most impressive attention to detail that one can imagine, as it’s not as easy as one may imagine phoning a sponsor and requesting training gear simply because you forgot them at home.

Moreover, making flight times after running an event, warming down, speaking in front of the press, peeing in a cup, getting a massage, taking a shower and grabbing a snack on the way to the airport can be challenging in its own right. Add to that the stress of having to have your bags randomly checked and your shoes run through an x-ray machine – two processes which demand even more time when you’re on your way somewhere and you’ve got the making of a small, stressful situation.

Jenny Adams would have been a good person to have interviewed had I taken the opportunity afforded me in June 2001 when she, after having won the U.S. Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, was about to make a mad dash straight to Europe.

I attended the 2001 meet whilst on holiday, and, had really gone there to see who this Alan Webb kid was (along with support one of my hurdler friends who eventually gave me a free press pass into the restricted, “athlete only” zones). Webb had run a 3.53 mile a month earlier, and had been all over the news.

Anyway, I’d put up a small fortune to make it there during a small tour and had missed my return flight to Chicago (and, eventually back to Paris) by 12 minutes, so I found myself hanging around the Eugene Airport watching stars come, and watching them go. Everyone had a destination, and some seemed less enthusiastic than did others as they made their way through the queues and to the check-in desk on the second level. That perhaps had something to do with who qualified to the IAAF World Championships and who didn’t – who knows.

I spent five hours in that small airport, and had all of my reporting done and all of my results neatly packed away during the first 45 minutes. What I didn’t have was any remaining patience to drag my feet another second, and it got old watching the same types of people – athletes – funnel through in single-file to places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver and Minneapolis.

I told my story to a middle-aged couple sitting on a bench downstairs, because they asked me whom I was visiting, and if I was there for the meet. We talked, I asked them the same obligatory questions, and, 20 minutes later, I was happy to have spent a good moment in time with the parents of Tim Montgomery.

Jenny Adams sat next to me on one of those raggedy, two engine planes which seated only 20 passengers or so as we headed to Portland... an up-and-down shot and just enough time to introduce myself. Adams was exhausted from all the week-end’s competition along with the stardom which came from placing well (winning the long jump and placing second in the 100m hurdles). I had no idea who she was – just that she was headed straight back to Texas, and, two days later, was headed to Europe to contest four races in seven days.

She’d have been interesting to speak with as she had to lace up and put in a whole lot of travel on short notice to get from Eugene to Houston and then on to Lausanne, Saint-Denis, Nice and Stockholm as well as eat, sleep, run and attempt to keep herself from losing her way as she travelled all alone in places both foreign and domestic.

I did get a chance to talk travels and athletics with the 800m runner, however, and she had grown tired of adjusting herself to different time zones twice a year (indoors and outdoors) and living out of a suitcase.

Back then, there wasn’t any internet and I haven’t the slightest recollection, truthfully, how she said she passed time; she mentioned writing a lot of letters and taking short walks through local parks to feel part of the communities she visited, but nothing more than so between her morning run and her afternoon workout.

I’m beginning to see the edge of my country approaching, which means that this short jaunt in the memory banks shall soon be over, and my inquisitive nature has to turn back to a more practical one like what I will eat when I finally do get back to Centrum – which is some 75 minutes by train from the airport.

I know where I’m going, how I’ll get there, and how long it will take me. I finally get to go home to the comfort of my own home, and I’ve only been gone for a day-and-a-half. Can’t imagine having to put in those four-day weeks on the roads hopping aboard and departing one plane after another in the pursuit of happiness – or business, as it is called.

I believe it a great test of resolve for young athletes to stay focussed as they journey away from their home countries and attempt to jump-start their careers in Europe. Some have the simple luxury of showing up where the trainer tells them, and simply following the lead.

At some point, however, that still takes a lot of faith to get through the tough days where ESPN doesn’t play on the hotel’s cable, and the internet service is only available for 30-minute windows in a hotel lobby for €2/hour… or if one runs out of magazines after having read virtually all of them on the long-haul flight from the United States to a destination near me somewhere here in the EU.