Seven Russian Athletes Banned Could Have Profound Effect On Medal Haul

On Monday FINA issued a statement announcing that seven swimmers from the Russian Olympic team have been withdrawn, with more to possibly follow. Four athletes were withdrawn by the Russian Olympic Committee, and three more have been named in the WADA-sanctioned McLaren report, named ineligible by FINA. For more information and the full release by FINA, click here.

Among the seven athletes removed from the team, six of them had a legitimate chance at one medal or more. The athletes removed are as follows:

Athletes withdrawn by the ROC:

–    Mikhail Dovgalyuk
–    Yulia Efimova
–    Natalia Lovtcova
–    Anastasia Krapivina (Marathon Swimming)

Athletes appearing in the WADA IP Report:

–    Nikita Lobintsev
–    Vladimir Morozov
–    Daria Ustinova

Here’s a closer look at each swimmer removed, their past international success and what their chances were heading into Rio.

Dovgalyuk swam a best time of 1:47.83 in the 200 free at the Russian Olympic Trials to place fourth, qualifying for the team as a relay-only swimmer. Though only him and 3rd place finisher Danila Izotov were named as relay-only swimmers in this relay, 5th and 6th place finishers at Trials Vyacheslav Andrusenko (400 free) and Alexander Sukhorukov (400 free relay) also qualified to swim in Rio, so there’s a chance Dovgalyuk would have only swum the prelim relay had he been out-swum in the prelims.

The Russians won silver in the 800 free relay at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and again at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, but faltered at the last Olympics finishing 10th in London. They have had improved results since, placing 2nd and 4th respectively at the last two World Championships. Dovgalyuk was part of the team that finished 4th in Kazan. Trials runner-up Nikita Lobintsev, who was set to also swim the individual race in Rio, has also been removed from the Olympic team. How this effects the 800 free relay moving forward remains to be seen.

The most talked about Russian swimmer lately, Efimova’s ban is music to the ears of many swimming fans who are calling for clean sport. Until recently it appeared Efimova would be allowed in Rio after being cleared by FINA, but the IOC has taken action. She will reportedly appeal this decision to the CAS. Efimova was unable to swim at the Russian Olympic Trials due to her doping ban, but was a legitimate medal threat in both breaststroke events in Rio.

Efimova was the world champion last year in Kazan in the 100, and did the same thing two years prior in Barcelona in the 200. This year she sits 2nd in the world in both the 100 and 200 breast, done at the Arena Pro Swim in Orlando in March. Her times of 1:05.70 and 2:21.41 sat behind only American Lilly King (1:05.20) and Japan’s Rie Kaneto (2:19.65) for top spot in the world. She was also the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the 200. Efimova’s removal from the team leaves Daria Chikunova (100 br) and Sofia Andreeva (200 br) as Russia’s female breaststrokers at the Games.

Lovtcova was set to swim the 50 free and 100 fly in Rio, as well as swim on the 400 free relay. Lovtcova was seeded 25th in the 50 free with her entry of 25.00 done last year, but she was faster at this years Trials in 24.97. Her best time is 24.93, leaving her outside of the medal conversation, but she would’ve had a shot at the semi-finals. She was also seeded 25th in the 100 fly with a 58.42. At Trials Lovtcova finished 1st in the 50 free, 2nd in the 100 fly and 3rd in the 100 free.

Lovtcova was an Olympian four years ago in the 400 free relay, and most recently swam four individual events at the 2015 World Championships including a 13th place finish in the 100 freestyle. The Russian 400 free relay could go on without any additional changes being made if they so chose, as 4th place finisher at Trials Rozaliya Nasretdinova qualified for the team in the 50 free, so they have added Daria Mullakaeva as an alternate, giving them four along with the Trials top-2 of Veronika Popova and Viktoriya Andreeva (Andreeva won’t swim the 100 individually in Rio, but she will swim the 200 IM).

Anastasia Krapivina, an open water swimmer who was suspended back in 2013, automatically qualified for Rio with her 5th place finish at the 2015 World Championships in the 10 KM. Just two seconds outside of a medal, Krapivina figured to be in the hunt for a medal this year in Rio. She also placed 8th in the 5 KM race, and recently came away with the win at the Russian Open Water Championships.

Nikita Lobintsev broke out at the 2008 Olympics, qualifying for the final of the 400 free in a national record (that still stands) and won silver on the 800 free relay. Since then he has been a consistent performer for Russia, winning four World Championship medals on the free relays and added another Olympic medal in 2012 with a bronze in the 400 free relay. Lobintsev placed second at the Olympic Trials in the 200 free, earning an individual event at the Olympics to go along with the relay. He also placed 6th in the 100 free, so he could’ve potentially been used as a prelim swimmer in the 400 free relay.

A finalist four years ago in London in the 100 free, Lobintsev was a long shot to match that this year in the 200, but he and the Russians were real medal threats in the 800 free relay. He and Dovgalyuk take away half of the top-4 in this event at Russian Olympic Trials.

Probably the biggest surprise on this list is Morozov, who has no positive doping tests on record but was on the McLaren report banning him from the Games. Morozov had a legitimate chance at a medal in both the 50 and 100 freestyles as well as the 400 free relay. Beginning with an Olympic bronze in 2012 on the 400 free relay, Morozov hit his stride in 2013, earning a silver medal in the 50 free at the World Championships along with a bronze in the 400 free relay.

Morozov split a 46.95 last year on the 400 free relay at the World Championships, but was disqualified in the individual race leaving him with no individual medals. Morozov was seeded 6th in the 50 free for Rio and was our original pick for bronze, but that won’t happen and the picks have been updated. He was also seeded 9th in the 100 free, and is the key for the Russians in the 400 free relay. They have medalled at 4 of the last 5 major championship meets (Olympics & World Championships), but with Morozov out they’ll be in tough to reach the podium again.

Daria Ustinova placed fourth at the World Championships last year in the 200 back, and has been even faster this year as she was a medal threat. She sits 5th in the world with her time of 2:06.92, and is also 15th in the 100 back in 59.78. She won both events at the Russian Olympic Trials. Her absence now leaves Anastasia Fesikova as the only female Russian backstroker on the team.

 

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Kim
5 years ago

Double standard, unfortunately: Why exclude russian swimmers with a doping background when Justin Gatlin is enterede for the US?

Nik
Reply to  Kim
5 years ago

Justin Gatlin served his ban.

Uberfan
Reply to  Nik
5 years ago

So did sun yang and park and efimova

Quinn
Reply to  Kim
5 years ago

It’s not a double standard because in the US there isn’t state sponsored systematic doping like in Russia so there is no need for the harsher rules in the Us that been placed on the ROC

Whatever
Reply to  Quinn
5 years ago

“…in the US there isn’t state sponsored systematic doping…”

That is certainly true, however, we have large corporations. Do you think Nike, Speedo, Under Armor, etc. would be able to sell products with athletes coming in at 8th place in an Olympic final? Here, it is done through agents (Octogon, IMG, DLE Agency, so on…) who make the big bucks with top athletes after signing deals with corporations who need the “best” advertising they can get. I mean who would not buy a pair of sneakers, a pair of swimming goggles, or other equipment which are being used by the No.1 athletes in the world?

I am a fan of swimming and I also have done it for a long… Read more »

Caleb
Reply to  Whatever
5 years ago

The history of sport suggests it’s foolish to take a big holier-than-thou attitude when talking about other countries… yours could be next. It’s good to keep an open mind. I won’t say that so-and-so could *never* be a doper… that’s why we test. That said, there’s a difference between keeping an open mind, and complete speculation. With Russia (and China in 90s, GDR in 70s) there is clear public evidence of state-sponsored doping. In the U.S., there isn’t. It’s lazy to *assume* that there is. Also, a few things make the U.S. less susceptible to massive, secretive doping. In no particular order; #1 Talent and competitors are spread among many sites, many coaches, etc. The sport does not have a… Read more »

ATXSWIMMER
Reply to  Whatever
5 years ago

Which olympics were you in during your time at the “Olympic level”?

Thesilentmajority
Reply to  Whatever
5 years ago

I call bs

Dan
Reply to  Whatever
5 years ago

Remember BALCO?
How many others could it be out there (not specifying any sport but the methods)?

BigDude
Reply to  Quinn
5 years ago

How do you know that there isn’t?:)

Brad Flood
Reply to  BigDude
5 years ago

We don’t know there isn’t, however, we DO have an independently run, in depth investigation that has exposed indisputable evidence of a multiple-years long, state sponsored doping system that not only supplied doping substances to athletes, covered up/made disappear positive tests, went so far as to manipulate the testing facilities at the Sochi 2014 Olympics for the express purpose of exchanging Russian athletes urine samples, that were known to indicate positive doping, with previously taken “clean” samples.

THIS is the reason for the action by the IOC. This is no witch-hunt on the Russians, this is based on FACTS that have been proven and evidenced by an independent investigation.

Understand the discussion, prior to making accusations and providing defenses.

BigDude
Reply to  Brad Flood
5 years ago

Maybe you should understand my comment, slow boy. Did I mention something about Russia or the actions taken!? LOL, we didn’t know Russia had any kind of state sponsored doping for their athletes until a while ago, and all of this is because the US is always.. you know, doing the stuff they like to do;) which I don’t think is bad in this case. But I think you should know that the use of PED’s is EXTREMELY normal at the top level, trust me, been there done that, and I don’t think that excluding the US athletes is a good idea!

Brad Flood
Reply to  BigDude
5 years ago

My understanding of your comment is precisely why I posted mine BIGDUDE. The knowledge that PED use is “extremely normal at the top level” (firsthand apparently…Mr. “been there done that”), VOID of direct, quantifiable & public proof that it is sponsored and/or supported by an IOC member’s government, may permit you to think that excluding the US athletes is not a good idea, however, when there is an investigation, run by an independent, NON-AMERICAN, expert, exposing a state run and sponsored doping system, that included directly manipulating the doping controls at an Olympic Games hosted by that country, one does not have to “think” about why that country’s athletes, and ONLY that country’s athletes, should be banned.from this Olympics.

FYI,… Read more »

TAA
Reply to  BigDude
5 years ago

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/23/sports/olympics/usada-doping-endocrinologist-investigation.html?_r=0

Here is USA “doctor sponsored” doping activity. At least the appearance is a little shady.

Brad Flood
Reply to  TAA
5 years ago

“USA “doctor sponsored”.. ” is hardly the same as the Russian Government sponsoring, financing and supporting an all sport inclusive system to provide doping substances to it’s athletes and assisting in the manipulation of testing procedures to cover up doping offenses.

A “little shady” is a far cry from a Hurricane Cloud covering with widespread destructive results!

Reaching for straws!

TAA
Reply to  Brad Flood
5 years ago

Its just done differently here. A doped athlete is a doped athlete. We use a free market system with capitalism paying the way. This doctor probably bills the insurance co 1000s of dollars for the treatments and then we have sports apparel companies rewarding the top track and field athlete with big contracts so yes it is sponsored here also. Its just not institutionalized with the government or USOC but its still sponsored by capitalism and the almighty $.

Do you go on the body building forums? We allow all the info out in the open for everyone to see but we don’t sponsor it? Whats the difference? I gave you the link to the difference, its USADA and they… Read more »

Quinn
Reply to  TAA
5 years ago

Where is the evidence for this?
you

swimdoc
Reply to  Quinn
5 years ago

Boy, I hate to say this, but the U.S. Postal Service unwittingly (I suppose — why argue with a good thing?) supported state-sponsored doping of Lance Armstrong et al.

bobthebuilderrocks
Reply to  Quinn
5 years ago

How do you know?

tea rex
5 years ago

Can we please get an update on why Morozov was named in the McLaren report???
I was not aware of that.

Admin
Reply to  tea rex
5 years ago

tea rex – we’ve been asking all day, nothing but dead ends.

Scott Morgan
Reply to  tea rex
5 years ago

Morozov missed tests, apparently, and had samples tampered with/tested in inappropriate conditions, as per McLaren report.

swim dawg
5 years ago

do we still have NO reason why Vlad Morozov is in the McLaren report?? Can they really just mention his name and not give ANY reason

Tom from Chicago
5 years ago

My heart sank when i saw Morozov’s name. I will wait to hear why his name was in the report.

Scott Morgan
5 years ago

Great news. FINA shows a hint of a backbone. Bu-bye, cheaters. I hope you are never welcome again on deck, Yuliya. For Morozov, Lobintsev and other McLaren namees–take your complaints up with your cheating government and federations. As it stands, no Russian athlete can be presumed innocent.

And yes, for the naysayers on this thread: Gatlin and his ilk should of course be banned.

Bayliss
5 years ago

This just makes me think that a lot more people are cheating in swimming than we know about. How much do the drugs help? And how do the superstars stay ahead of the drug cheats if they really do make a big difference? Doping bans need to have the death sentence on careers, that’s the only way i see this getting better.

thomaslurzfan
Reply to  Bayliss
5 years ago

I doubt that its possible to win an olympic medal in swimming or athletics without doping. Punishment is so weak, that it actually doesnt make much sense to not dope. You cant lose much by doping, but if you do it right, you can earn more than you could ever with a normal job.
I think everyone who knowingly took a PED should be banned forever and those cheaters also should have to pay back all the prize money. I think it would also be fair if those cheaters would have to pay for those athletes who finished behind them and therefore lost an opportunity to get better endorsements.

swimming wife
Reply to  thomaslurzfan
5 years ago

It is possible to win without doping. I am married to a swimming coach who has 5 olympic gold medals from CLEAN athletes. Yes shock horror!!! He has been impacted for the last 3 years by these cheats and it’s frustrating to see clean coaches and athletes missing out on medals or championships that were rightfully theirs. It is hard to keep motivated when you know that your swimmers are competing against cheats. This is a win for clean athletes and coaches. THEY DO EXIST. The punishments are not tough enough. Life bans are needed. There are honest people in sport who do the right thing. It’s a pity they miss out on the recognition they deserve. These are the… Read more »

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  swimming wife
5 years ago

Well replied – Thomas forgot his matured brains in his comment – it happens sometimes

thomaslurzfan
Reply to  ERVINFORTHEWIN
5 years ago

Sadly there is no way to report comments on here, but its clearly you who “forgot” his matured brain. Someone who has to insult other people on the internet in my opinion cant have a matured brain, i assume that you are just too young to have.one.

Billy
Reply to  swimming wife
5 years ago

Who are you married too? Inquiring minds want to know!

thomaslurzfan
Reply to  swimming wife
5 years ago

You better should have remained quiet …
1) Where exactly did i say that it wasnt possible in the past to win medals without doping?
2) Why do you assume that your husband would tell you the truth? I think most coaches wouldnt tell anyone if they knew that their athletes were doping, it would make them look suspicious as well and would diminish their accomplishment.
3) Why do you assume that those athletes didnt dope without your husband/their coach knowing it? Dont you think that athletes are smart enough to dope without the help of their coach?
4) Why exactly should i believe your story, if you dont even seem to be confident enough to… Read more »

Swammer
5 years ago

Will swimmers mentioned in the mclaren report lose their medals from Kazan?

Joel Lin
5 years ago

I think my conspiracy theory is pretty good now.

I think these seven will each appeal to CAS and win. The four that are barred because of prior bans will prevail because it is well settled there is no second dip to punish an athlete that has already served the punishment of a prior sanction. Vlad and the others named in the WADA report somewhere seems to clearly signal each of them were popped in the re-testing of samples. There isn’t a rational other way to explain it. Each of them will appeal and win because they have technically never been reported by WADA or sanctioned by FINA yet.

FINA ain’t stupid people. They want to show compliance with… Read more »

CoachGB
Reply to  Joel Lin
5 years ago

Dissapointed about Vladimer. I as a niaeve American thought he would tell them to “pound sand” with this crap or did he make the mistake of missing a test or two.

CoachGB
Reply to  Joel Lin
5 years ago

Very disappointed in Vladimer. I as a naive American was he would tell them to ” go pound sand” or did he miss a test or two which was a poor decision.
This is my third time trying to post am I censored.

TAA
Reply to  Joel Lin
5 years ago

I buy about 90% of it. But if Vlad has a buried positive test I think that is grounds for provisional suspension just like the Brazil gal was temporarily suspended pending her case being cleared. How would they clear him to compete with a positive test case pending? There is too much heat at this point to let him compete. If Vlad has no positive test and he has a bunch of negative USADA test results from his USA training then I think he is good to go.

thomaslurzfan
Reply to  Joel Lin
5 years ago

So you finally got what IOC was up to … ? Great for you!
Of course they know that this decision wont stand, so all those cheaters will still be allowed to compete, but IOC can act as if they really tried to change something.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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