Against the backdrop of the ongoing universal doping hysteria surrounding Russia the story of the discovery of Meldonium in the body of our curler Alexandra Krushelnytskoho remains sensational and mysterious. Athlete paired with Anastasia Bryzgalova won the bronze medal of the Olympic games in Pyeongchang, finishing third in double-doubles. After identifying the doping trial of Alexander banned substances the results of the pair at the Olympics were cancelled and awards were automatically transferred to the representatives of Norway, formerly in fourth place.
photo: Gennady Cherkasov
Immediately after the incident, the Curling Federation of Russia created a special Commission for interaction with law enforcement on the case Krushelnytskoho, collecting evidence of his innocence, rehabilitate the good name of the athlete and to represent him in court. According to the President of cosmonautics Federation of Russia Dmitry Svishchev, have joined the investigation RUSADA and the court of arbitration for Sport (CAS) has agreed to provide the Russian side more time to gather evidence. The deadline for submission of position FCR — until 26 April.
Not so often, but in the practice of sports law, still found softening or complete cancellation disqualification return of awards. One such example is the situation of the Russian Paralympian Alexei Obydennova, who not only managed to prove that he had not violated anti-doping rules, but also to achieve the return of world championship medals. However, the happy ending was preceded by the search of irrefutable evidence and the trial, which lasted more than six months.
Specially for “MK” expressed the attitude of Alexander Krushelnytskoho and told the story of their struggle for the return of the gold medal of the world Cup famous , paraboloides Alex Everyday.
We then all got into a difficult situation. The doping test was taken in early March 2016 at the world Championship after my victory race on the track. All winners are tested by default, this is standard procedure. April 1 has come “the happiness letter” from RUSADA that in my sample found traces of a prohibited drug and imposed a temporary suspension from competition.
I’ll tell you this detail. Meldonium was included in the list of prohibited substances from January 1, 2016, and the us for three months before that in the championship of Russia reported that Meldonium gets into the stop-list and recommended that all athletes who have applied in advance to stop taking it. So did everyone, including me, and forgot about it. From WADA there was no explanation either in terms of removing traces of the drug from the body, nor on the allowable residual concentrations of metabolites in the sample. We do not anticipate any problems, didn’t think any of nanograms may be grounds for imposing disciplinary punishments.
My business quickly went to sports lawyer Artem Patsev. In may, a month after the suspension, a letter came: a suspension is canceled because traces of Meldonium minimum, then the drug was applied before January 1, 2016 that is not a violation of anti-doping rules. I can once again participate in the competition, and we waited the full text of the final decisions on my ill-fated trial, as is done in these cases.
Already in the information about the cancellation of temporary suspension, it was stated that the fact of intention or negligence on my part was absent, and no disciplinary consequences are not provided. Then I continued to prepare for the Paralympics in 2016, spoke at several international competitions, on the stage of the world Cup. Then, in July 2016, we left before the final in Rio de Janeiro the camp in Italy, where training in the national team, I have learned disheartening news. Came the decision RUSADA in my case, which was obscure and creates. Recognized the absence of my guilt, but added a clause stating that annulled the result of the performance in the world Cup. When the athlete in a competitive test revealed a prohibited drug, shall enter into force clause of the WADA Code, which automatically canceled the competitive result achieved in the period of delivery of a positive doping test.
In the same decision on the same matter to me I used no disqualifications and simultaneously canceled one of my most important results. There was a kind of “fork” legal case. Then my lawyer made the difficult decision to go for the truth until the end and appealed to the court of arbitration for Sport (CAS) and tried to prove the injustice of the cancellation of the result in the world Cup.
— The court took a lot of time?
We filed an appeal in October 2016, was scheduled proceedings and the resulting settlement agreement, approved by CAS (the return of the gold medal of the world Championship) came out in early February 2017. Only, it turns out, the investigation and trial process took about ten months, almost a year. Had to work hard with RUSADA, the International Cycling Union (UCI) and CAS, to collect evidence, to seek common ground and work together, through constructive dialogue, to seek out a difficult for all parties involved in the situation.
Another important point: we tried to make information on the status of my case got into the media. In these extraordinary and difficult situations that could harm the proceedings. We got to work, roughly speaking, in “quiet” mode. When the topic starts to spin in the media, it can lead to significant difficulties in the dialogue between the participants in the proceedings are: a complex and unnecessary background which is difficult to handle all sides of the conflict. In such cases, we need calm. We managed to achieve it, to find common ground with opponents and come to an agreement. CAS approved it for me was to maintain the status of world champion and won a medal.
— How active part in the investigation had to take for you personally?
— Work was quite tense, because until that point, the precedent of such decisions were extremely rare, almost unique. Great work done by the lawyer, but I assisted also: collected papers, argued that stop taking an illegal drug at least three months prior to its appearance in the stop list. Most importantly, we insisted, — in the moment when was taken the sample, there was no clear guidance for WADA melidoniou. It’s kind of a force majeure event has resulted in decisions in favor of maintaining performance.
But in the case of Alexander Krushelnitskiy the situation is different, a ban on Meldonium introduced a long time ago…
— I understand that all his previous doping samples clean. Despite the seeming similarity of our cases are completely different, from a legal point of view and the rules of the WADA Code. I think the claim of Alexander will be challenged way of getting Meldonium in the athlete’s body.
My situation was such that the drug I do used, but till certain time, and the anti-doping legislation is not violated. As it seemed to me and to my representative in any legal norm is an exceptional case of force majeure factor. In other words, the legal system is quite flexible and, if the athlete is really innocent, it’s possible to prove.
I hope it will happen with Kruszelnicki. The fact that he decided not to appeal the CAS decision now means most likely that Alexander, with the support of a team of lawyers and specialized Federation will continue to fight for the good name and medal.
— Whether, from your point of view, the chances of a positive outcome in his case?
In my opinion, Yes. The substance got into the athlete’s body unknown to him. If it succeeds to prove and to find irrefutable evidence that the athlete became a hostage of someone’s criminal action, likely to defend the clean reputation are large enough. But you need a compelling evidence base is no to his guilt. If on his part there was nothing illegal and he did not even know that he or someone does something. Clearly it is necessary to defend the position that the drug is not applied to them deliberately — and there should be no other “water”.
Of course, everything must be carefully worked out, and give to act professional. Believe me, in such situations, the way looking for all interested parties: the accusers and the victim. Compromise is possible, just need to explore, search for items, engage in constructive dialogue, to gather evidence and act patiently.
In any case, the path to the truth is not meaningless, and it must then be rewarded. I think Alexander needs to go for his truth, and if approval so he has a good evidence base and in one form or another to acquire it. At least he will be able to tell what passed on this way until the end and did all that was in his power. To stop and not despair. You need to try to prove your point. Fortunately, no one forbids. For the future it even improves the judicial practice, the laws are being finalized in the course of life. When serious evidence base the hope of a favorable outcome is always there.