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Subject: RE: Seven world class Russian track athletes banned for doping scandal
It always has worked both ways. The banning of results always starts from the date the positive sample was taken, and has always done so. The suspension has always started from the date the anti-doping agency has suspended an athlete from competition. This date-suspension-starts usually begins a few months after the date-positive-sample was taken.
If you get suspended 2 years for a doping violation, that 2 year suspension will always end about 2 years and a few months after the date the positive sample was taken. It takes a few months for most anti-doping agencies to suspend an athlete after a positive sample is obtained. Time is needed for testing both the "A" and "B" samples and time is needed to give the athlete a chance to put forward his/her side of the story, and for the anti-doping agency to do its investigation of what the athlete contends happened. Then a suspension decision if finally made and announced to the public. In this Russian matter the period between the date of the positive test to the date the suspension was issued extended to an unusually long period of about a year.
The Russian backdating attempt has never been tried before by any anti-doping agency worldwide. The WADA code makes it very clear this can not be done. If you get a 2-year suspension, you can not compete at all for a consecutive 2-year period. End of discussion!!!
This matter will be a slam dunk for WADA to win if the Russian Athletic federation appeals this matter to CAS. I suspect the Russians will back off since what they are trying to do is clearly against what the is stated in the WADA code.
The Russians might have a case if these athletes did not compete at all after their first positive test over a year ago. But they did compete until mid 2008. Occasionally a suspension can be backdated to the date the athlete last competed, especially in "no significant fault" cases. But never further back then that.
Sometimes an athlete knows he/she tested positive, but due to extraordinary circumstances the athlete might be found to have not committed a doping violation (e.g., cross-contamination of supplement). Occasionally it might take 3-6 months to learn if the athlete will be suspended or not. Perhaps further tests need be done, or several experts need to be consulted.
If the athlete does not want to wait several months to find out if he/she will be suspended and have that suspension begin several months in the future, the athlete always has the option of signing a voluntary "provisional" suspension at any time. By signing a provisional suspension, the athlete agrees not to compete until anti-doping agency decides whether or not to suspend him. If 5 months out the athlete is suspended for a year, then the suspension starts (is backdated) the date the athlete signed the "provisional" suspension agreement -- and the athlete has only 7 months of suspension remaining to serve.
Of course if the anti-doping agency decides no doping violation has occurred, then the athlete's "provisional" suspension ends and he/she can immediately compete. Yes, in that case the athlete took a voluntary suspension that turned out to not be necessary. This is how things have always worked, at least since about 2002.
The WADA code is clear that a suspension can only be backdated to the date the athlete signed a provisional suspension. In cases where the athlete was found to have "no significant fault", occasionally the suspension might be backdated further to the date the athlete last competed (generally only under appeal). But that is the limit of backdating.
The Russian athletes could NOT have signed a provisional suspension until after they learned they had a possible doping violation, which was in mid 2008. They also competed at late as mid 2008. Therefore their 2-year suspensions can not be backdated earlier than mid 2008. The rules are so absolutely clear on this that I'm shocked the Russian Athletics Federation even tried to backdate these 2-year suspenions to 2007. This really shows that the top management of the Russian Athletic Federation is corrupt and needs to be replaced.
The appropriate action for the IAAF is to now decertify the Russian Athletic Federation and ban all Russian athletes from competiting in IAAF meets until a new anti-doping agency for T&F is formed in Russia to replace the current one. That new replacement anti-doping agency can not employ any senior management from the current decertified organization.
The IAAF is the toughest on anti-doping matters of all the world's sport governing bodies. If the Russians don't back off here, don't be surprised if the IAAF decertifies the Russian Athletic Federation. They have the power and the backbone to do this.
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