Liliya Shobukhova ordered to pay back London Marathon prize money

• Russian whistleblower told to pay back £377,961.62 plus costs
• ‘We are determined to make marathon running a safe haven from doping’

The Russian marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova, who blew the whistle on corruption between senior figures in the IAAF and Russian athletics after being banned for doping offences, has been ordered to pay back £377,961.62 plus costs to the London Marathon. That figure represents her total prize and appearance money for the 2010 and 2011 London marathons.

All Shobukhova’s results since 9 October 2009 were annulled in 2013 because of abnormalities in her biological passport. That included her marathon best of 2hr 18min 20sec, the second fastest time in history set while winning her third Chicago marathon in 2011, as well as her first and second places in London in 2010 and 2011.

Under the rules of the World Marathon Majors race series – which comprises all of the big city marathons, including Tokyo, Boston, London, Chicago, New York, Berlin – any athlete found guilty of a doping offence is required to repay all prize and appearance money. In Shobukhova’s case the high court in London has ruled that is substantial.

Nick Bitel, the chief executive of London Marathon Events Ltd, said that it would now try to have the judgment enforced in Russia. “It will be a long and difficult process but we will pursue it as we are determined that cheats should not benefit,” he said. “Any money we get back will be redistributed to the athletes that Shobukhova cheated out of their rightful dues.

“We are determined to make marathon running a safe haven from doping. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure cheats are caught and do not benefit from cheating.

“In addition to testing operated by the IAAF and national federations, the Abbott World Marathon Majors has set up one of the largest private testing pool of athletes in sport, with 150 competitors being tested out of competition a minimum of six times a year for their unique athlete biological passport.”

Shobukhova, who recently announced her retirement, was banned for life from taking part in the London Marathon and in any of the five other marathons that make up the Abbott World Marathon Majors in 2013.

The following year she went to the IAAF ethics committee with information that senior athletics officials had extorted €450,000 (£330,000) from her in exchange for covering up her doping violations.

Several of the figures she implicated in the allegations – including Papa Massata Diack, the son of the former IAAF president Lamine Diack, Valentin Balakhnichev, a former president of the All-Russia Athletics Federation and treasurer of the IAAF, and the senior Russian endurance coach Alexei Melnikov – were all given life bans from the sport this year by an IAAF ethics commission. Balakhnichev and Massata Diack have both denied any wrongdoing.


Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

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