Four Russian bobsledders banned for Olympic doping
Five years after the Sochi Olympics, the man who carried the Russian flag at the opening ceremony has been banned for doping at those games.
Alexander Zubkov, already stripped of two Olympic gold medals, was among four Russian bobsledders banned on Wednesday until December 2020 for their part in organised doping at the 2014 Games.
They are the first cases in any sport with athletes receiving full bans as a result of Russia's doping sample swaps at the Games rather than only being disqualified from the competition itself.
Zubkov told The Associated Press that he could appeal the verdict, and won't step down as Russian Bobsled Federation president.
"I'm going to talk it all over with my lawyer," Zubkov said.
All four were banned for two years by the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (ISBF), which accepted an earlier Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that they were part of a scheme to swap steroid-tainted samples for clean urine.
The sanctions bar them from any role in the sport, which, in Zubkov's case, would include his role as president of the Russian Bobsled Federation. However, that could be complicated by Zubkov's own legal manoeuvres in Russia. In November, he won a ruling from a Moscow court that the earlier CAS verdict did not apply in Russia, and an appeal by the Russian Olympic Committee was rejected last week.
Zubkov said he didn't think the IBSF should be able to remove him as the top official in Russian bobsledding.
"I don't see, so far, the link. I wasn't elected by the federation, I was elected by the country." Zubkov said. "I will look at what grounds they are using to remove me from the post of president. After that, I will take my decision."
The International Olympic Committee is still demanding that Zubkov return his gold medals.
The other Russians banned by the IBSF were Alexander Kasyanov, Aleksei Pushkarev, and Ilvir Khuzin. Of those, Pushkarev and Kasyanov have competed this season in the bobsled World Cup, recording a pair of 13th-place finishes at an event last month in Latvia.
Two more bobsledders' cases are still ongoing, including that of Alexei Voevoda, who entered the Russian parliament in 2016.