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IOC sanctions Beijing 2008 medallist, addresses criticism

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has stripped another medal from an athlete who competed at the 2008 summer Olympic Games as the organisation reiterated its goals for the reform of the anti-doping system following a US Congressional Sub-Committee hearing held on Tuesday.

The IOC said Viktoriya Tereshchuk of Ukraine, who won a bronze medal in the women’s modern pentathlon at Beijing 2008, tested positive for the anabolic steroid turinabol in retests of a urine sample given at the time.

The 35-year-old, a world champion in 2011, loses her medal and faces being banned by the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM). The IOC’s reanalysis of samples from Beijing 2008 and the 2012 summer Games in London has now resulted in more than 100 positive doping tests.

Tereshchuk (pictured) is the fourth Ukrainian medallist from Beijing to be disqualified in the retests, but the first modern pentathlon athlete. Reacting to the news, UIPM president Klaus Schormann said: “This is a highly regrettable and very rare case of a modern pentathlon (athlete) being found to have committed an anti-doping violation, and UIPM is grateful to the IOC for having devised a system of detecting historic transgressions relating to the Olympic Games.

“UIPM is committed to promoting clean sport and protecting clean athletes, and will continue to maintain a robust anti-doping system in order to enshrine the values of respect and fair play as established by our founder, Baron Pierre de Coubertin.”

Meanwhile, the IOC has moved to clear up “uncertainty” surrounding roles and responsibilities in the global fight against doping, along with future reforms of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada). Tuesday’s US Congress hearing in Washington D.C. saw the IOC come in for criticism, with United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) chief executive Travis Tygart stating the organisation had let down clean athletes.

The IOC came in for heavy criticism for its stance on Russian athletes at the 2016 summer Olympic Games, opting to leave the decision-making process on their participation to International Federations (IFs) amid the doping storm surrounding sport in the country. By contrast, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) opted to enforce a blanket ban on all Russian athletes at Rio de Janeiro’s Paralympic Games.

In a statement, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said: “We are fully in agreement that testing and sanctioning need to be independent from sporting organisations, but also from national interests. This we already proposed in 2015. In this respect, we hope that the US and other governments will support us in this reform.

“A standard level of testing must be harmonised per sport in close cooperation with the relevant IF, to ensure that athletes from all nations in one sport or discipline are treated equally. In respect of decisions being taken on a national level, even the perception of the protection of national athletes is damaging. Therefore, effective supervision by Wada of national anti-doping programmes is needed, as well as fully transparent international Test Distribution Plans (TDPs).”

Adams added: “As for Wada’s governance, we hope to make it more independent from both sports organisations and governments. We have already offered to elect a neutral president of Wada, but this has not yet been accepted by our partners in Wada – and we are still ready to discuss this once again. We have appointed independent experts for the Wada governance working group to give independent advice on how best to reform the governance of Wada.”