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May 9, 2019

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‘Identity fraud’ athlete handed 12-year ban

A Russian athlete who used the identity of a friend to circumnavigate her country’s state-sponsored doping suspension was yesterday handed a 12-year ban, the Athletics Integrity Unit announced.

Kseniya Savina, 29, tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO in an out-of-competition in Ifrane, Morocco, on May 15, 2018. She blamed the result on her housekeeper mixing up her back pain medication with pills her husband and coach Aleksei Savin was taking for renal failure.

An AIU investigation, with the help of Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA, found that Savin had never been prescribed this medication. Records supplied by Savina’s home town clinic in Simferopol were proved to be forged. Savina, who has retired from competition, is also under investigation for an extraordinary case of false identity. The tale began in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea, then part of Ukraine, and home to Savina, then a promising track athlete.

Savina took on Russian nationality following Crimea’s annexation and began to compete for her adopted country and competed under an assumed identity. She borrowed the name and nationality of friend Galina Syshko, a one-time 800-meter runner who also happened to look like her, though two years younger.


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