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MOSCOW, April 15 /TASS/. The Russian Skating Union will not challenge the decision of the International Skating Union (ISU) to deprive Russian speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov of two gold medals won at the 2016 World Championships in the Russian city of Kolomna if it was passed in compliance with WADA’s latest recommendations and the WADA Code, Alexey Kravtsov, the head of the Russian Skating Union, said in an interview with TASS.
The World Anti-Doping Agency published its interim findings on meldonium in a report published on Wednesday, April 13. The presence of less than 1 mcg in 1 milliliter in blood samples taken before March 1, 2016 is permissible. However, the presence of meldonium in athletes’ blood is considered to be a violation of anti-doping rules as of January 1, 2016.
"If the banned formula is discovered during a tournament, the results of the competitions are to be annulled in accordance with WADA rules," Kravtsov explained.
"The International Skating Union is supposed to be guided by the WADA code and recommendations when it passes its decision [on Kulizhnikov]. If Pavel Kulizhnikov is stripped of his gold won in Kolomna, there is no point in challenging this decision. Believe me, we do not have any grounds for lodging a protest because the banned formula has been found in his blood sample. You see, the absence of guilt does not relieve an athlete of responsibility," Kravtsov told TASS.
The 2016 World Speed Skating Championship took place in Kolomna near Moscow in mid-February. Kulizhnikov won the 500m and 1,000m races.
"I would like to add that if an athlete pleads guilty [of doping use], his or her results in subsequent competitions are usually annulled. But that’s not the case with Pavel," Kravtsov went on to say.
"He took part in the World Sprinter Speed Skating Championship late in February where he won a gold medal. Kulizhnikov’s blood samples taken at that tournament were clean. So no one is going to take his Seoul gold away from him," the head of the Russian Skating Union said.
A day earlier, Kravtsov told TASS that the meldonium content in Kulizhnikov’s blood sample taken during the World Championship in Kolomna was lower than the level, which WADA had established for innocent athletes. Kravtsov hopes that the ISU will soon allow the Russian speed skater to return to sport.
Anti-doping charges against short-track speed skaters Semyon Yelistratov and Yekaterina Konstantinova may also be dropped because the meldonium content in their January blood samples was minimal. Yelistratov, however, will have to part with his three gold medals and one silver medal won at the European championship in Sochi while Konstantinova will have to return her silver medal in a 3,000m race. The International Skating Union will most likely annul the Russian women team’s second result in the relay race, in which Konstantinova, caught on doping use, took part. The blood samples of both speed skaters (Yelistratov and Konstantinova) taken at the European championships contained meldonium.