Olympic hammer throw champion Tatyana Beloborodova of Russia has been suspended in a doping case, the IAAF said Tuesday, potentially increasing pressure on the country’s track and field team. Russian state media reported that a sample Beloborodova gave at the 2005 world championships had tested positive in a retest. The IAAF did not confirm the claim.
Beloborodova previously served a two-year ban for steroid use in 2007, and a second offense could leave her with a lengthy ban, potentially affecting the Olympic gold medal she won in 2012.
The 32-year-old Beloborodova, who was known as Tatyana Lysenko until 2014, has also won two world championship gold medals and is a former world-record holder in the hammer. She returned to competition last year after giving birth, but has not competed this season.
Russia is currently banned from all international track and field competitions, including the Olympics, after a World Anti-Doping Agency commission report in November detailed systematic, state-sponsored doping. However, Russia hopes to have the suspension lifted before the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.
Samples from older competitions, including the Olympics, are often retested years later to allow them to be examined with the most modern equipment available.
Previous retesting of some 2005 samples in 2013 revealed banned substances in samples given by five medal winners. However, the latest round of retests, which began last year, is controversial.
A Russian runner, Tatyana Andrianova, was banned by the IAAF in December after the banned substance stanozolol was found in her 2005 sample, costing her a bronze medal in the 800 meters.
However, the IAAF says Andrianova is now appealing the verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. A key issue is the IAAF’s interpretation of the time limit for retesting samples, which was increased from eight to 10 years by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
That prompted the IAAF to launch the retesting program which caught Andrianova, but there has been opposition to this retrospective increase. Under the eight-year limit in force in 2005, she and other doped athletes at the 2005 championships would not have been eligible for retesting after 2013.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko on Tuesday told Russian news agency R-Sport that he believed those retests were illegal.
“In our view, the given situation is a breach of the relevant rule,” Mutko said. “We will dispute it.”
The IAAF said it would not comment further on any doping cases from the 2005 championships until Andrianova’s legal dispute is resolved.