WADA applauds unprecedented CAS ruling on Ukrainian sprinters

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[April 25, 2019]  (Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Wednesday welcomed a recent Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision on two Ukrainian sprinters that it said sets a new precedent for catching athletes who choose to cheat.

Olympic bronze medal winner Olesia Povh and Olha Zemliak were both convicted of using a prohibited substance based on the detection of non-physiological levels of testosterone in their blood serum samples.

According to WADA, the measurement of testosterone levels in blood serum constitutes a further tool for Anti-Doping Organisations (ADOs) to detect and prosecute doping, even where urine samples might be reported as negative.

WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said the "unprecedented" decision could have a long-term positive impact on clean sport and sets an important precedent as it gives ADOs another way to secure violations against those who cheat.

"It is a significant victory for clean sport and for athletes around the world," Niggli said in a statement.

"Significantly, CAS ruled that there could be no doubt on the evidence that the method used in measuring testosterone in blood serum was scientifically valid, paving the way for further examples of this method being used in the future."Povh, who won bronze as part of Ukraine's 4x100 meters team at the 2012 London Olympics, was sanctioned with a four-year ban while Zemliak received an eight-year suspension as it was her second violation.

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Olha Zemliak of Ukraine reacts after competing in the women's 400 metres heats during the European Athletics Championships at the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich August 12, 2014. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

The bans were originally announced by the Ukrainian Athletic Federation in February 2018, with Aug. 3 of the previous year given as the start date for both suspensions as this was when the failures were announced.

CAS, however, ruled the start of the suspensions should be changed and as such both will run from the day samples were collected, June 15, 2016 for Povh and July 5, 2016 for Zemlyak.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)

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