A Russian gold medalist at the 2014 Sochi Olympics has been disqualified based on evidence from an investigation into a state-backed doping conspiracy
LAUSANNE, Switzerland — A Russian gold medalist at the 2014 Sochi Olympics was disqualified Wednesday based on evidence from an investigation into a state-backed doping conspiracy.
The International Olympic Committee said cross-country skier Alexander Legkov was disqualified from all his events in Sochi.
Legkov 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 also took silver in the 4x10-kilometer relay event.
A second Russian cross-country skier who did not win a medal, Evgeniy Belov, was disqualified based on evidence first gathered by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren.
The IOC said both athletes were banned from being accredited to attend any future Olympics.
They are the first Sochi cases to be judged without positive doping samples, but instead on evidence from McLaren's claims of tampering and cover ups.
McLaren was appointed to examine claims by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia's WADA-authorized drug-testing laboratories.
Rodchenkov, who is now in a witness protection program in the United States, said he switched tainted urine samples for clean ones at the Sochi lab with help from the Russian security service.
After McLaren's reports into Russian doping were published last year, the IOC created a disciplinary panel to verify the evidence and judge the cases.
The verdicts announced Wednesday were the first from six Russian cross-country skiers scheduled to have hearings at IOC headquarters this week.
"Additional decisions from these first hearings will be communicated in the coming days," the IOC said.
A total of 28 cases involving Russian athletes in Sochi who were implicated by McLaren were handed over to the IOC panel, chaired by Swiss lawyer Denis Oswald.
"More hearings concerning other athletes will be held over the next few weeks," the IOC said.
Russian cross-country ski federation president Yelena Valbe said the rulings will be appealed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"When we receive all the papers on Legkov and Belov, we'll have 21 days to file an appeal to CAS," Valbe told Russian agency R-Sport. "We will file it."