Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Who benefits if Russians are stripped of 2014 Olympic medals?

With the WADA report offering even more evidence of the state sponsored doping in Russia, the talk and speculation is whether Russia should be allowed to compete in Rio at all. If they are not, then who should take their place and is there time for those replacements to be made? I look forward to see how the IOC answers these questions.

Of course with the 2016 Olympics less than three weeks away, this should be the priority for the IOC but just as important, what should happen to the 33 medals won by Russia in Sochi?

Without doping, Russia would have won medals and so I am sympathetic to the athletes who would have or could have medalled while competing clean.

Ideally, having the ability to prove sample tampering, those the athletes whose samples are proven to be tampered with should lose their medals.

This is above and beyond WADA receiving "serious information that xenon was being used" at the Sochi Olympics to boost performance but can not be proven.

Although it saddens me to hear about the doping, I am encouraged for the future that perhaps people, organizations and countries will be deterred to cheat.

If every Russian athlete is found to have tampered samples, who benefits?

A better question is perhaps who was cheated out of experiencing their Olympic moment?


China would receive 5 more medals.
Norway would get 4 extra medals.
Italy and Canada increase their total medals by 3.
11 other countries would receive the remaining medals.

How would it affect Canada's results?
Canada would receive gold in figure skating team event.
Marc-Antoine Gagnon would win bronze in the moguls event for a Canada podium sweep.
Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch would win bronze.
Canada would be awarded its first luge medal ever with a bronze in the team relay.
Charle Cournoyer's bronze medal would be upgraded to silver.

Other interesting stories:
4-time Skeleton World Champion and 7-time World Cup overall champion Martins Dukurs would win his first Olympic gold medal. His brother Tomass would be awarded his first Olympic medal with a bronze.

5-time World Champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy would be upgraded to their first Olympic gold medal in Pairs Figure Skating.

5 individual medals were won by Viktor Ahn from South Korea and Vic Wild from U.S.A. who competed for Russia in 2014.

There are some interesting stories looking back at the medals.

Five individual medals were won by two athletes who became Russian citizens in order to compete in Sochi. Viktor Ahn from South Korea in short track speed skating and Vic Wild from the United States in snowboard alpine. Did these two athletes understand what they were signing up for when they chose to compete for Russia? Were they willing to do anything possible including doping in order to medal at the Olympics?

Viktor Ahn won 3 individual medals (2 gold, 1 bronze) plus a relay gold at the 2006 Olympics. Is it feasible that after being left off the 2010 Olympic team and not having many international results since then that Ahn could win four medals at the 2014 Olympics without doping?

Vic Wild was frustrated by the lack of funding and support from the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association. He married a Russian in 2011 and joined the Russian sports program. You can read a 2014 story about his success here. He and his wife both medalled in Sochi. Did Russia provide him with training, coaching, funding and equipment that he didn't receive in the U.S. or was doping also provided? If he was a clean athlete, it's sad that he is now implicated in this scandal.

Anyone who follows skeleton knows how dominant Martins Dukurs is in the sport. He is the overall World Cup champion for every season since the 2009-2010 season. He won the World Championships in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016. A Russian won the World Championships in 2013 and Olympic gold in 2014 (there was no World Championships in 2014). Alexander Tretiakov had already won gold at the 2010 Olympics. He could have won the Olympics in 2014 competing clean (if he was clean in 2010), but did he? Did Dukurs underperform in 2014 or did Russia ensure that Tretiakov would win? If the Russian cheated and is stripped of his medal, Dukurs would be upgraded to gold and his brother Tomass would be awarded bronze, his first Olympic medal after being 4th in 2010 and 2014.

Initially I was surprised to see the hockey results that Russia didn't medal. Shouldn't this have been an important medal to win for them? Looking at the roster, 15 of the 24 players are in the NHL which would be difficult to add to a doping program. Was the women's hockey medal not important enough or did doping not help their performance?

If red flags weren't already raised by some of the Russian performances, the cross-country 50km race on the last day of competition certainly did. Like the Summer Olympics who award the marathon medals at the closing ceremony, the medallists received their medals at the closing ceremony of the Sochi Games with Russia sweeping the podium. If you look at World Championships medals, one Russian has won silver in 2009 and 2011. What are the chances that three Russian athletes sweep the podium without doping?

If the Russian mogul skier had his sample tampered with, the Canadian team would sweep the podium with Alexandre Bilodeau winning gold, Mikaël Kingsbury silver and Marc-Antoine Gagnon promoted to bronze.

Canada was 4th in three luge events including the team relay. The team was heartbroken at how close they came to win their first Olympic medal. At the time, there was speculation that the track had been tampered with after Russia sled down during the team relay. The teams competed in reverse order of seeding.  The dominant German team who won the men's singles, women's singles and doubles were able to overcome the potential tampering by finishing first. Russia finished second. The other teams to slide after Russia did not medal. Add the doping scandal to the speculated tampering and teams were sliding uphill for medals. If one of these theories is accurate, Canada should have won its first ever luge medal in 2014. 

It's not unusual for Russia to win multiple medals in figure skating. Were they competing clean? If so, hopefully it can be proven that their samples were not tampered with. However, questions remain about Evgeni Plushenko's performance while suffering from a back injury to help Russia win gold in the team event, then pulling out of the singles competition too late for a replacement to be named. It's possible that Russia wins multiple medals without doping, but perhaps Russia didn't want to take that chance.

There was controversy over the scoring for the ladies figure skating competition. If Russia loses its gold medal, Kim Yuna would be boosted up to gold defending her 2010 Olympic gold medal.

Russian pairs have a history of success. One of my favourite pairs of all time are Russians. However in 2010 there was no Russian pairs on the podium. In 2014 they won gold and silver. In the years leading up to 2014 these two teams won one silver in 2011 and one gold in 2013. They never shared the podium but are 1-2 at the 2014 Olympics? The German pair Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy won the World Championships in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014. They won bronze at the 2010 Olympics and the 2014 Olympics. They would be upgraded to gold if the Russian pairs are stripped of their medals. Canada's Dylan Moscovitch and Kirsten Moore-Towers would be upgraded to bronze after finishing 5th. Moscovitch and Moore-Towers split their partnership a few months after the Olympics. Moscovitch now interestingly skates with a Russian skater.

Who could have won medals and didn't? (Full details follow)

Some sports are not as simple as others. With some athletes being eliminated in early rounds or preliminary races, some athletes did not advance to semi finals or finals because they were beaten by alleged doping athletes.

Looking only at fourth place finishes (not medals that would change colour), China would be awarded 5 medals (one of which is in figure skating and three in short track speed skating). This would increase their total medals to 14.

Norway was fourth 4 times behind Russians at the Olympics. This would increase their total medals won to 30.

Italy and Canada would increase their medal count by 3 increasing their total to 11.

Five countries would get two extra medals (Austria, Latvia, France, USA and Germany) and six countries would get one (Czech Republic, Great Britain, Japan, Belarus and Netherlands).

Who would be upgraded to gold if the Russians were stripped of their medals?

Germany - Men Biathlon Relay
Switzerland - Bobsleigh - 2 Man
Latvia - Bobsleigh - 4 Man
Martin Johnsrud Sundby - Norway - Cross-Country 50km
Kim Yuna - South Korea - Figure Skating - Ladies
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy Germany - Figure Skating - Pairs
Canada - Figure Skating Team
Wu Kajing China - Short Track Speed Skating Men's 500m
Sjinkie Knegt - Netherlands - Short Track Speed Skating Men's 1500m
USA - Short Track Speed Skating Men's 5000m relay
Martins Dukurs Latvia - Skeleton (his brother would be awarded the bronze)
Žan Košir Slovenia - Snowboard Men's Parallel Slalom
Nevin Galmarini Switzerland - Snowboard Men's Giant Parallel Slalom

Who won the Russian medals and who finished behind them? 

Biathlon - Men Individual
Bronze Evgeniy Garanichev
 4th Simon Eder - Austria --> Bronze

Biathlon Relay - Men 
Gold Russia
 Silver Germany --> Gold
 Bronze Austria --> Silver
 4th Norway --> Bronze

Biathlon - Women Sprint
Silver Olga Vilukhina
 Bronze Vita Semerenko - Ukraine -->Silver
 4th Karin Oberhofer - Italy --> Bronze

Biathlon Relay - Women
Silver Russia
 Bronze Norway --> Silver
 4th Czech Republic --> Bronze

Bobsleigh - 2 Man
Gold Russia
 Silver Switzerland --> Gold
 Bronze USA --> Silver
 4th Russia --> DQ
 5th Latvia --> Bronze
 (Canada 6th, 7th, 9th -->4th, 5th, 7th)

Bobsleigh - 4 Man
Gold Russia
 Silver Latvia --> Gold
 Bronze USA --> Silver
 4th Russia --> DQ
 5th Great Britain --> Bronze

Cross-Country Skiing  Men 50 km freestyle
Gold Alexander Legkov Russia
Silver Maxim Vylegzhanin Russia
Bronze Ilia Chernousov Russia
4th Martin Johnsrud Sundby - Norway -->Gold
5th Sergei Dolidovich - Belarus --> Silver
6th Robin Duvillard - France --> Bronze

Cross-Country Skiing Men 4x10 km Relay
Silver Russia
 Bronze France --> Silver
 4th Norway --> Bronze

Cross-Country Skiing Team Sprint
Silver  Russia
 Bronze Sweden --> Silver
 4th Norway --> Bronze
 (plus Japan make the final if Russia is DQ'd from semi-final)

Figure Skating Ladies
Gold Adelina Sotnikova Russia
 Silver Kim Yuna - South Korea  --> Gold
 Bronze Carolina Kostner - Italy  --> Silver
 4th Gracie Gold USA --> Bronze

Figure Skating Pairs
Gold Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov Russia
Silver Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov Russia
 Bronze Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy Germany  --> Gold
 4th Pang Qing and Tong Jiam China  --> Silver
 5th Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch Canada --> Bronze

Figure Skating Ice Dancing
Bronze Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov Russia
 4th Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat --> Bronze

Figure Skating Team Trophy
Gold Russia
 Silver Canada  --> Gold
 Bronze USA  --> Silver
 4th Italy --> Bronze

Freestyle Skiing Men's Moguls
Bronze Alexandr Smyshlyaev Russia
 4th Marc-Antoine Gagnon Canada --> Bronze

Luge Men's Singles
Silver Albert Demchenko Russia
 Bronze Armin Zöggeler Italy --> Silver
 4th Andi Langenhan Germany --> Bronze

Luge Team Relay
Silver Russia
 Bronze Latvia --> Silver
 4th Canada --> Bronze

Short Track Speed Skating Men 500m
Gold Viktor Ahn Russia
 Silver Wu Kajing China  --> Gold
 Bronze Charle Cournoyer Canada  --> Silver
 4th Liang Wenhao China --> Bronze

Short Track Speed Skating Men 1000m
Gold Viktor Ahn Russia
Silver Vladimir Grigorev Russia
 Bronze Sjinkie Knegt - Netherlands  --> Gold
 4th Wu Dajing China  --> Silver
 (Penalized in Final Sin Da-woon South Korea classified as 7th)
 B-Final winner Han Tianyu China (classified as 5th) --> Bronze
 B-Final 2nd Russia

Short Track Speed Skating Men 1500m 
Bronze Viktor Ahn Russia
 4th J. R. Celski USA --> Bronze

Short Track Speed Skating Men 5000m Relay
Gold Russia
 Silver USA  --> Gold
 Bronze China  --> Silver
 4th Netherlands --> Bronze

Skeleton Men's
Gold Alexander Tretiakov Russia
 Silver Martins Dukurs Latvia  --> Gold
 Bronze Matthew Antoine USA  --> Silver
 4th Tomass Dukurs Latvia --> Bronze

Skeleton Women's
Bronze Elena Nikitina Russia
 4th Katie Uhlaender USA --> Bronze

Snowboard Men's Parallel Slalom
Gold Vic Wild Russia
Žan Košir Slovenia Gold
 Bronze Benjamin Karl Austria  --> Silver
 4th Aaron March Italy --> Bronze

Snowboard Men's Parallel Giant Slalom
Gold Vic Wild Russia
 Silver Nevin Galmarini Switzerland  --> Gold
Žan Košir Slovenia Silver
 4th Patrick Bussler Germany --> Bronze

Snowboard Cross Men's
Silver Nikolay Alyunin Russia
 Bronze Alex Deibold USA  --> Silver
 4th Paul-Henri de le Rue France --> Bronze

Snowboard Women's Parallel Giant Slalom
Bronze Alena Zavarzina Russia
 4th Meschik Austria --> Bronze

Speed Skating Women 500m
Silver Olga Fatkulina Russia
 Bronze Margo Boer Netherlands  --> Silver
 4th Zhang Hong China --> Bronze

Speed Skating Women 3000m
Bronze Olga Graf
 4th Claudia Pechstein Germany (2002 Olympic record holder) --> Bronze

Speed Skating Team Pursuit
Bronze Russia
 4th Japan --> Bronze

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