The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced today that it had retroactively disqualified Olga Beresnyeva from the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and annulled her seventh-place finish in the 10K open water race. Beresnyeva tested positive in March, 2015, for the presence of recombinant erythropoietin (rEPO) in a new analysis of the samples she provided in 2012. (Read the exact wording of the IOC decision here)
Beresnyeva competed at the 2000, 2004, and 2012 Olympic Games, and at the 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011, and 2013 World Championships. She won the 25K at the 2010 European Championships. In 2000 and 2004 she was on the Ukrainian team but changed citizenship to Israel after 2004. When she failed to make the Israeli team for the 2008 Olympics, Beresnyeva regained her Ukrainian citizenship. She still holds the Ukraine National Record in the 1500m free (16:27.76, from 2003).
The IOC said that Beresnyeva provided pre-Games urine samples on July 28, 2012, which at the time passed the testing performed at the doping lab in Cologne, Germany. However, the IOC stores Olympic samples for ten years in order to allow for retesting as more improved methods become available, and when Beresnyeva’s sample was retested in March, this time the findings showed the presence of rEPO.
The IOC report says that, confronted with the findings, Beresnyeva admitted to knowingly buying a product called “Eprex” online with the aim of boosting her performance. Although she did not attend the IOC’s disciplinary hearing, she did respond in writing to the charges, accepting responsibility for her “fatal mistake” and expressing willingness to take part in any anti-doping programs to which she might be assigned.
FINA, the international swimming federation, has yet to weigh in on sanctions against Beresnyeva. It is likely that the organization will ban her from the sport for two years.