Stripped Russian Olympians Are Refusing To Give Up Their Medals

Oh, and Russia is considering a bid for the 2028 Olympics

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Feb 02, 2017 at 4:02 PM ET

Just as some Russian officials continue to deny the existence of a state-sponsored doping program, not a single Russian athlete has lost an Olympic medal as a result of the mass retesting of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Games.

Sure, the mainstream media has reported that 18 Russian Olympians have received retroactive disqualifications for positive tests. But, the country’s Olympic committee said Thursday that none of the athletes have actually given their medals back.

“So far, we don’t have any reports of [medals being returned],” Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov told reporters, per the AP.

Some are said to be waiting for the appeals process to finish before handing them over while others have no interest in ever doing so. One relay runner, Maxim Dyldin, who initially claimed a bronze in 2008’s 4×400 race, reportedly told a local Russian newspaper in January that “our ministry didn’t agree with the decision and told us to keep the medals,” apparently making this another state-sponsored conspiracy. Dyldin added, “I’ve got the medal at home. Let them try to take it.”

Dyldin, it’s worth noting, has been holding onto his medal for five months already, as he had to forfeit his bronze after September’s ruling that teammate Denis Alexeev had been doping. Dyldin reportedly received his own four-year ban in January from the Court of Arbitration for Sport for “evading, refusing or failing to submit for sample collection,” although it’s not evident when exactly that happened. When the AP asked Dyldin about his medal, he refused comment.

The two World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned investigative reports completed by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren indicated that more than 1,000 athletes in at least 30 sports had been part of the massive doping conspiracy. Concurrently, WADA has been re-testing samples from the 2008 and 2012 Games using more sophisticated methods that were available then, which has led to the 18 aforementioned DQ’s.

The AP story posits that Russia’s negligent compliance “could strain relations” with the International Olympic Committee as the fallout of the McLaren Reports is being determined. The second report triggered disciplinary proceedings for 28 athletes stemming from the 2014 Winter Olympics. Russia’s track-and-field team remains banned in full, as well as its Paralympic contingent.

Russia has shown mixed signals, at best, about its willingness to accept any culpability. Though the acting director general of its national anti-doping agency told the New York Times that the country had indeed taken part in “an institutional conspiracy,” most officials continue to refute the claim. Deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko, who oversees sports policy, dared say that “Russian sports are among the cleanest in the world” and that “there are no facts” to support the accusations.

Mutko had been sports minister until his promotion last October, and his successor, Pavel Kolobkov, has continued with the same party line, telling state news agency TASS, “I’m confident that all these accusations that are now made about the alleged state-sponsored doping system have no grounds.”

In fact, there is such defiance about the whole ordeal that Zhukov recently told another state news agency, RIA Novosti, that the country is deliberating a bid to host the 2028 Summer Games.

Russia, don’t forget, is currently serving a provisional ban from the IOC in which the body says it won’t “organize or give patronage to any sports event or meeting in Russia.” But, sure, good luck with that Olympic bid—and holding onto those medals.