Former Bank of America Chicago Marathon winner and World Marathon Major champion Liliya Shobukhova has been banned for two years after a blood doping scandal. The Russian Athletics Federation has handed down a two year ban, backdated to January 24, 2013.
Insidethegames.biz in addition to a number of other websites are reporting that the Russian marathon runner was banned for “abnormal hematological curves” in her biological passport. This tests for changes in the chemistry of the blood over time. Every result since October of 2009 have been annulled after the positive test, which include all three victories in Chicago and a win at the London Marathon in 2010.
In addition to being stripped of her titles, the WMM said in a release that they require all athletes who are found guilty of doping to repay all winnings at the races they represent (London, Boston, Chicago, New York, Berlin and Tokyo) and any appearance money at these events. The 39-year-old won a combined $1 million on top of her prize purse winnings in 2009-10 and 2010-11 after winning the World Marathon Majors title.
“I am disappointed to hear that Liliya Shobukhova has received a two year doping ban from the Russian Athletics Federation,” Bank of America Chicago Marathon race director Carey Pinkowski said in a statement. “As a member of the World Marathon Majors, our race is an advocate for strict anti-doping measures which ensure the integrity of our athletes and of our sport. We will wait for the Federation to release the final ruling in this matter before addressing the athlete’s standing with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.”
In 2011, her second of three wins in Chicago, Shobukhova ran the second fastest female marathon time in history, finishing in 2:18:20. Her time was only behind Paula Radcliffe for fastest time ever. In a tweet following the announcement of the suspension, Radcliffe said “Lilya [sic] Shobukhova finally exposed as a drug cheat. Fraud on so many levels, so much money effectively stolen in appearance fees, winnings and endorsements.”
Shobukhova’s time at the top of the sport cam with a quick spike after transitioning from track to distance running. Around 2008, after making the switch for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Russian runner fired her long-time coach and began working with her husband, despite his admitted complete inexperience. In 2009 Shobukhova began her run at the top of the WMM events.
In their release following the ban, WMM announced their continued support of Russian Athletics Foundation (VFLA). They stated that since 2006 WMM has provided financial support to the International Association of Athletics Federation to help with their elite athlete testing. They have also previously agreed that any athlete found guilty of blood doping will not be invited back to any of the WMM races.
In their statement Nick Bitel, the General Counsel of WMM said “Cheats need to understand that they are not welcome in our sport and they will be caught.”
Shobukhova still has time to appeal the decision and nothing is yet final. Until that appeal is determined or the time available for appeal has expired, WMM said they are unable to comment further. Since her last victory in London Shobukhova has failed to finish in the top group of any marathon major or at the 2012 London Olympics.