Report: Russian Marathoner Shobukhova Paid to Avoid Doping Suspension

Doping and extortion scandal could have widespread implications for the Russian athletics federation.

Doping and extortion scandal could have widespread implications for the Russian athletics federation.

Liliya Shobukhova, the three-time Chicago Marathon champion from Russia who earlier this year had her results from October 2009 onward annulled following the discovery of abnormalities in her biological passport, may be facing even more trouble.

According to the French sports newspaper L’Equipe and German television channel ARD, Shobukhova and her husband paid the Russian athletics federation 450,000 euros ($550,000) to cover up a positive doping case. L’Equipe based their reporting on the deposition of Shobukhova’s agent, Andrei Baranov, to the ethics commission of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

“The IAAF has noted a number of serious allegations regarding matters related to anti-doping in athletics, which were published today in L’Equipe newspaper,” the IAAF emailed to the Chicago Tribune. “The IAAF understands that there is already an on-going investigation by the IAAF Ethics Commission into these allegations but is not informed as to the status of this investigation or any other details related to the investigation.”

Shobukhova, who held a personal best of 2:18:20, dropped out of the Olympic Marathon in 2012. According to reports, Shobukhova claims she and her husband paid the money to the Russian federation in three separate installments after being threatened that she “could have problems”—i.e., she failed a doping test—and be forced to miss the 2012 Games, the AP reported.

According to ARD reports, when Shobukhova was handed her two-year ban by the Russian federation in April, her husband received a 300,000 euro ($370,000) refund, adding it had linked the transfer to Russian federation president Valentin Balakhnichev, who is also the IAAF treasurer.

Shobukhova won the Chicago Marathon in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and also won the 2010 London Marathon. L’Equipe reports that the doping violation took place in 2011 but her payments to the Russian federation over the course of seven months in 2012 allowed her to avoid a ban and eventually compete in the 2012 London Olympics.

In addition to Shobukhova’s scandal, the AP reports that ARD also possesses an undercover video featuring reigning Olympic 800-meter champion Maria Savinova. In the video, which doesn’t show the face of the woman in question, Savinova reportedly admits to using the banned steroid oxandrolone. The ARD reports also linked Russian officials and athletes to doping scandals in other sports, including swimming, cycling, biathlon, weightlifting and cross-country skiing.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, said it “will take any necessary and appropriate steps” against Russian authorities.