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Dobriskey slams 'Russian seven'

By Matt Slater

Lisa Dobriskey
Dobriskey is adamant a tough stance must be taken against drugs cheats

British 1500m star Lisa Dobriskey has backed moves to extend the suspensions of seven Russian athletes caught cheating before the Beijing Games.

The Russian Athletic Federation (ARAF) issued two-year bans, backdated to April/May 2007, so they could compete at next year's World Championships.

But the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) wants the athletes to spend fours on the sidelines.

"I would definitely be angry if they were able to run," said Dobriskey.

"I'd feel cheated if I had to line up against any of them in Berlin next year - and I speak for the majority of women's 1500m runners because it has caused quite a big stir, and not only in our event but in athletics in general."

The seven women, who include double world 1500m champion Tatyana Tomashova and 1500m indoor world record-holder Yelena Soboleva, were provisionally suspended in July, shortly before this summer's Olympics, after being found guilty of tampering with their urine samples.

They need to be punished and be seen to be punished

Lisa Dobriskey
The suspensions followed a year-long investigation by the IAAF after it had grown suspicious the athletes were being tipped off ahead of "no-notice, out-of-competition" tests and then manipulating their samples.

A trap was sprung at last year's World Championships in Osaka when DNA in samples taken from the seven did not match the DNA in their earlier samples. Five of the women were in Russia's team for Beijing.

Having denied claims of systematic doping, the ARAF caused consternation last month when it finally announced details of the bans it was dishing out.

The athletes were given the mandatory two-year bans but those suspensions were backdated to the time of those first out-of-competition tests. This meant they would be eligible to compete in Berlin in August.

The IAAF, however, wants those sanctions to start no earlier than the day the athletes were provisionally suspended. It also wants the Court of Arbitration for Sport to extend the bans beyond the mandatory two-year minimum.

"It is unacceptable that these athletes, who have committed serious and deliberate breaches of our anti-doping rules, would receive an effective ban of approximately nine to 10 months and see them eligible to compete in the summer of 2009," said IAAF president Lamine Diack.

Tatyana Tomashova celebrates her 1500m gold at the 2006  Europeans
Tomashova, European champion in 2006, was tipped for gold in Beijing
"What is more, I consider the circumstances surrounding these cases warrants the IAAF to seek extended bans."

The 25-year-old Dobriskey, who finished fourth in the women's 1500m Olympic final in Beijing, supports Diack's stance entirely.

"It would be very damaging to the sport if they are allowed to get away with this, simply because they've obviously cheated," she said.

"They need to be punished and be seen to be punished. We need to set an example and show people who are cheating, or who are thinking about cheating, that they can't get away with it."

The Loughborough-based star said she was particularly disappointed with Tomashova, one of the favourites for Olympic gold in Beijing and an athlete she had admired for many years.

"As it stands they will have missed only one season," Dobriskey added.

"OK, I know it was an Olympic season but people miss the Olympics through injury, when they haven't done anything wrong. So I think it would be very damaging if the Russians are allowed to compete next year, and very unfair."

The other athletes in question are middle-distance runners Svetlana Cherkasova, Yulia Fomenko and Olga Yegorova, former world champion hammer thrower Gulfiya Khanafeyeva and European discus champion Darya Pischalnikova.

see also
Dobriskey hails best-ever season
06 Oct 08 |  Athletics
Seven Russians handed doping bans
20 Oct 08 |  Athletics
Russian 'dopers' were tipped off
17 Dec 08 |  Athletics
Drugs chief admits Olympic fears
07 Aug 08 |  Beijing 2008
Russians deny 'systematic' doping
06 Aug 08 |  Beijing 2008
Soboleva smashes world 1500m mark
18 Feb 06 |  Athletics
Tomashova defends her 1500m crown
14 Aug 05 |  Athletics
Tomashova stuns favourite
31 Aug 03 |  World Athletics 2003

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