Sochi Olympics doping: Russian gold medallist disqualified
Geneva: In a landmark verdict that indicates Russia conspired to run a doping programme at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a cross-country skier who won a gold medal was disqualified by the IOC.
All results for Alexander Legkov in Sochi were wiped from the record on Wednesday and he was banned for life from attending another Olympics.
A second Russian cross-country skier was also disqualified and banned by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday, while cases implicating 26 more Russian athletes in a Sochi doping conspiracy are pending.
With calls to ban Russia's team from next year's Pyeongchang Olympics likely to increase, the IOC's executive board will meet next month to discuss the matter.
The IOC disciplinary panel did not have a positive doping test from Legkov but used evidence of cover-ups and tampering of sample bottles that was first gathered last year by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren.
"The IOC showed its determination to protect clean athletes from the very beginning of the case," said the Olympic body, whose board meets Dec. 5-7 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The IOC panel did not give details of the evidence Wednesday. McLaren has said that glass sample bottles were scratched when broken into, and in some cases clean urine used to cover up doping was tampered with, revealing unnatural levels of salt and even DNA from the wrong gender.
Legkov's gold medal was a marquee Russian success at the Sochi Olympics, which was a national priority for President Vladimir Putin and cost 51 billion to prepare for and host.
The cross-country skier won gold in the individual 50- kilometer freestyle race in a Russian podium sweep on the last day of competition.
The Russian trio received their medals in the main Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony. Legkov had earlier taken silver in the 4x10-kilometer relay.
Legkov said last year he had never failed a doping test, claiming he was tested so often that he couldn't have doped without being caught.
"You'd have to be a complete kamikaze to do that in Russia if you're an athlete representing our nation," Legkov said.