FINA Suspends Three Retired Russian Swimmers, Including World Champion Lobuzov

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 25

March 30th, 2022 News

The FINA Doping Panel has issued suspensions to three retired Russian swimmers for violations of anti-doping rules.

Artem Lobuzov received a four year suspension, Alexandra Sokolova received a four year suspension, and Artem Podyakov received a four year suspension, each for use of a prohibited substance.

That makes at least 10 Russian aquatics athletes who are currently serving suspensions for violation of anti-doping rules violations.

All three athletes have retired, and none have competed since at least 2019. However, all three athletes were suspended based on the contents of Russian Anti-Doping databases that were recovered by WADA as part of its investigation into coverups by Russian anti-doping authorities.

All three suspensions were backdated to August 2021, the date of the charges brought by FINA as a result of that data. All three were given provisional suspensions at that time.

In all three cases, FINA doubled the “standard period of ineligibility” from two years to four years because of aggravating circumstances, specifically the coverup by the “sophisticated doping scheme.” In all three cases, the doping panel said that the aggravating circumstances rider could have been avoided by admitting the ADRV after being confronted with it by FINA.

Artem Lobuzov

The 31-year old Lobuzov was a regular part of Russia’s international 800 free relay from 2013-2016. That included winning a gold medal in the 800 free relay at the 2016 World Short Course Swimming Championships and a silver medal at the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in long course.

At the 2014 National Cup competition in Russia, Lobuzov provided a urine sample to RUSADA that the newly-uncovered databases show tested positive for metabolites of three anabolic steroids: Trenbolone, Metenolone, and Oxandrolone. The Anti-Doping Panel says that this trilogy of steroids was developed by Doctor Grigory Rodchenkov, the disgraced former director of the Moscow Laboratory, referred to as the “Duchess Cocktail.”

Rodchenkov asserted that the combination of the three steroids and its method of administration (“swishing” around the mouth”) were designed to minimize the risk of detection.

When initially informed of the finding, Lobuzov did not reply to the FINA letter. He later challenged the assertion of the ADRV but did not provide any further explanations other than a short note:

“I, Lobuzov Artem Yurievich, stopped my Sports activity in 2018.

At the moment, I do not work as a coach in any State institutions. I deny the charge of violating the rules”.

Lobuzov competed at least as recently as the April 2019 Russian Championships, where he swam the 100 free.

Lobuzov continued to not reply to FINA correspondence, and so FINA found him in violation of rules. As part of the punishment, in addition to a four year suspension, all competitive results obtained by Lobusov since July 27, 2014 are being disqualified. That includes forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.

That presumes to include his medals at the 2014 World Short Course Championships, 2016 World Short Course Championships, and 2014 European Aquatics Championships. SwimSwam has reached out to FINA to ask about stripping of those relay medals and redistribution thereof.

Alexandra Sokolova

Sokolova is an open water swimmer whose results included a bronze medal in a FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix event in Serbia in 2012. She last competed in FINA competitions in October 2015 and the doping panel says that she now appears to be a swimming coach.

The database shows that she tested positive for Furosemide in 2013. While not a performance-enhancing substance in and of itself, it is a diuretic and a possible masking agent for other substances. This is the same substance that resulted in anti-doping proceedings against Brenton Rickard and Cesar Cielo, among others, though neither case ultimately resulted in suspensions for either athlete.

Sokolova didn’t respond to FINA’s initial letter, and then after the formal charges in August 2021 did respond in a similar fashion to Lobuzov.

“Hello,
I am Sokolova Alexandra Alexandrovna, I graduated from professional sports activities in 2015. I do not recognize the charges presented to me by FINA DC, I do not confirm the drug found on November 25, 2013.”

Like others, she had her sentence doubled for not admitting the ADRV when confronted with it by the anti-doping panel, and for her part in the Russian doping scheme.

Her results from November 23, 2014 have been disqualified, and she is barred from participation in any capacity in a competition or activity, including in her role as a coach, authorized by any Signatory or any elite international or national level event funded by a governmental agency.

Artem Podyakov

Artem Podyakov is a 32-year old open water swimmer. Among his results are a 4th-place finish in the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup in Brazil on January 31, 2010.

Podyakov tested positive for Acetazolamide at a concentration of .345 mcg/mL from a sample collected on November 23, 2013 by RUSADA.

The drug is a diuretic used to treat common illnesses like blood pressure, glaucoma, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, or altitude sickness. It causes the body to excrete more water than usual, and is banned in and out-of-competition not for their performance-enhancing effects, but for their ability to mask other prohibited substances.

Podyakov challenged the charge initially, but then stopped responding to the Doping Panel’s communications. On November 30, 2021, the All-Russia Swimming Federation said that they didn’t receive a reply from Podyakov either and said that FINA and WADA “can make the decision according to their rules.”

All of his results from November 23, 2013 forward were disqualified, and he swam his last FINA competition on February 26, 2016.

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Old Coach
8 months ago

ROC farce

Rick Sterling
8 months ago

There is lots of geopolitics combined anti-Russia bias at play here. Grigory Rodchenkov, the star of Icarus, was magically transformed from the mastermind of a money-making scheme which served a few athletes in Russia into an anti-doping “whistle blower” who claimed it was all “state sponsored”. Compliments of the CIA. As confirmed int the 2019 Rand report the US goal is to “undermine Russia’s image abroad”. One of the ways they have done this is to exaggerate and create false cases of Russian doping. Also about the other target of US foreign policy: China. See the case of Sun Yang. If you are interested and open to know more, I have writte about this in various places including Sports… Read more »

Swim nerd
Reply to  Rick Sterling
8 months ago

What’s 2019 Rand report? Do you have a link to it?
Don’t you think this athletes’ behavior shows that they knew they are guilty?

Jay Ryan
8 months ago

Everyone who cares about doping in Russian Sports should cue up the documentary “Icarus” on Netflix. The lengths that the KGB went to cheat is extreme. They have been busted by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of RUSADA who was thrown under the bus by Putin. In return, he turned States evidence to the WADA investigation run by former Canadian Swimmer Dick Pound. Rodchenkov is now in the FBI witness protection program in the US. Allowing Russian Athletes to compete in light of this crooked KGB (FSB) controlled RUSADA system enables the grift to continue. The Russian athletes are victims here too. Did the 15 yo figure skater Valieva cheat on her own? No she was caught and fed to… Read more »

Realligor
8 months ago

Funny

Ukrainian
8 months ago

#RussiaMustBeBanned

Swimmerfromjapananduk
8 months ago

What is a suspension going to do to retired swimmers?

Thomas
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 months ago

I don’t know these athletes, but I feel like it happens *somewhat* frequently in swimming where athletes come out of retirement.

Michael Lawrence
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 months ago

Tells the sporting world we will keep coming for sport felons.

Stewie
8 months ago

Aren’t we at the point by now with Russia that it’s time for a severe penalty (a la the NCAA “death penalty” for SMU football in the 1980s)?

I propose 10 years of no international competitions for any Russian athletes, and no recognition of any times swim by Russian athletes during the same period.

Fight me.

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  Stewie
8 months ago

I’m with you on the severe penalty part but my first instinct after reading this article is that 10 years is too much. You’re affecting the lives of children at that point, possibly blocking them from any kind of international sporting career.
But I don’t know know what the sweet spot is for appropriate punishment at this point. It all gets back to something I’ll repeat from a previous comment of mine: Banning Russia is the easy part. The hard part will be knowing when to let them back in.

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
8 months ago

Thought about it. I think through 2028 would be appropriate – 6 years. Out of Paris and LA. Maybe that’s enough time for change to happen in Russia.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Stewie
8 months ago

That’s what I’ve been saying, it has to be a full decade ban without remedy for reduction. The only possibility is extension. These penances have to be handed out when memories are fresh and the situational evidence is front and center. Otherwise you get stuck in a scenario like the Capitol Riot where months or a year pass and lies intervene with people trying to pretend it wasn’t so bad.

Yozhik
Reply to  Stewie
8 months ago

Yeah, lock them all up! Forever!
It doesn’t work this way. American prisons are overcrowded, does it help?
At some point in the middle of last century there was almost no family that didn’t have someone in prison or in labor camp. The criminal attitude and culture was widely spread.
The sport wasn’t exception. The principle “not caught – not a thief” is still the major moral postulate.
Take it easy guys, give them time for new generations to accept new moral norms. If there would be no such leaders like Putin&Co. this country will find its way to bring their level of violations to the level we have here.

Stewie
Reply to  Yozhik
8 months ago

You’re not serious, are you? Give them more time? It is a state-sponsored systematic doping program. What’s clear is that that the 1-2 year bans, no competing under your national flag have not been sufficient to dissuade the state from continuing its cheating. Asking them to “play fair” hasn’t worked. A decade-long ban hasn’t been tried yet. In fact, I’d suggest a ban until the 2036 Olympics…

Yozhik
Reply to  Stewie
8 months ago

This conversations can have sense only in the case if some numbers got presented. The numbers that show the dynamic of violations by Russian athletes starting in 1980s (Soviet Union) then 1990s(the chaos caused by Soviet Union collapse), and than 2010s (Putin’s craziness with National Idea).
Neither you nor me have such data, but I won’t be surprised if I see some decline in recent years. If that is the fact I wouldn’t explain it by severity of punishment but by broader exposure of Russian people to businesses and moral values of Western World.
Russian people are no different than people in any other country. But there are still plenty brainwashed Rylovs there. Punish them as any other… Read more »

Michael Lawrence
Reply to  Stewie
8 months ago

The appropriate penalty needs to be generational. Start over, Russia

Swim nerd
Reply to  Stewie
8 months ago

I’m just curious how much you know about Russian sport that allows you to make such a blanket statement? There are few sports with government sponsored training facilities where allegedly government sponsored doping programs might be possible. But so many sports and so many athletes are training independently, not even within the country! Not to mention, they do not receive any help from the Russian government, let alone any “medical” help. Just like Americain kids, they spend thousands excruciating hours training. With all due respect and my hate towards Putin, there is just no system that might force those kids to dope or coaches to give dpoing to kids. It’s always an individual choice, of a coach and/or of an… Read more »

snarky
8 months ago

Just ban Russia for a decade already. Perhaps they will get the message.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  snarky
8 months ago

For perspective purposes, Russia won 8 gold medals in track and field in 2012. Six of them have been stripped and the 2 surviving ones are held by known drug cheats, who have had medals stripped and results removed, one prior to 2012 and one beyond. Those medals stand currently only because they can’t link the doping to the window covering 2012.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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