The Week That Was: Russian Federation Handed Four-Year Ban, But Some Athletes May Be Allowed to Compete

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The Russian Federation was banned from competing at international events across all sports for the next four years. But some clean athletes will have the chance to compete under a neutral flag at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo Courtesy: FINA / Budapest 2019

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The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The European Short Course Championships in Glasgow and the US Open in Atlanta concluded this weekend as many of the world’s best swimmers finished their 2019 competitions as they go back home and gear up for the 2020 Olympic year. However the biggest story of the week came from out of the water as the Russian Federation was handed a four-year ban by the World Anti-Doping Agency from competing at international competitions across all sports for a very publicized scandal involving the manipulation of thousands of doping tests.

Read below the five biggest stories in the Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Week That Was #5: Katie Ledecky Breaks a Pair of 30+Year-Old Janet Evans Meet Records at US Open

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Katie Ledecky – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Andy Ross

The 2019 US Open came to a close on Saturday night as many of the best American swimmers convened in Atlanta to put on the last domestic long corse show of the year. Katie Ledecky shined in particular, winning the distance triple — to no one’s surprise, with wins in the 400, 800 and 1500 in dominating fashion as she aims to repeat Olympic golds in the 400 and 800 in Tokyo as well as win the inaugural 1500 title. Ledecky has been compared to a modern-day Janet Evans and she was able to take down two of Evans’ long-standing US Open meet records in Atlanta.

She first broke the 400 meet record on Thursday night with a 4:00.8, taking down Evans’ record of 4:05.4 from 1987 that at one point in time was the world record. Ledecky followed that up with a 15:35 in the 1500, destroying Evans’ 1988 meet record of 15:52.1 that stood as the world record for 19 years.

Ledecky proved she is in a great place heading into 2020 where she chases a third Olympic berth and a chance to be the first woman to win the 800 free at the Olympic Games three times.

#4: Dean Boxall Frustrated With Lack of Progress in Shayna Jack Doping Case

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Dean Boxall – Photo Courtesy: Ian Hanson

By Ian Hanson, Swimming World Oceania Correspondent.

Australia’s No 1 swim coach Dean Boxall remains frustrated with a system he knows could cost his star sprint freestyler Shayna Jack her Olympic dream.

But he is not giving up on his charge – and remains in her corner as she faces the toughest fight of her life to clear her name and return to the pool.

A lingering fight after a positive doping infraction that forced her to withdraw from the Australian team before this year’s Fina World Championships in July.

The 21-year-old from Brisbane tested positive to the banned substance Ligandrol a SARM (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator) that produces anabolic effects such as muscle mass and strength without the usual side effects of steroids.

The Week That Was #3: Vladimir Morozov Caps Off Successful European Championships in Glasgow as Most Decorated Swimmer

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Vladimir Morzov won seven gold medals at the European Short Course Championships; Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

By Liz Byrnes, Swimming World European Correspondent.

Vladimir Morozov finished the European Short-Course Championships with seven gold medals after he won the 100m freestyle and rounded off the competition with the breaststroke leg as Russia delivered a thunderous title-winning performance in the men’s 4x50m medley relay.

Russia dominated the meet, with 13 golds among 22 medals. The Russians finished a close second in the Team Trophy race that grants points for gold, silver and bronze as well as all places in finals. Italy, with its entire national team in town, claimed the trophy with 1186 points to 1046 for Russia and with the hosts Great Britain, with only 11 swimmers racing and the likes of Adam Peaty bypassing the meet, third on 793. Russia topped the men’s points, while Italy’s women were a league apart own points.

Morozov also won golds in the 50 free, 50 breast, 4×50 free relay, and the two 4×50 mixed relays.

#2: Abbey Weitzeil Becomes First Woman Under 21 in SCY 50 Freestyle

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Abbey Weitzeil made SCY history at the Minnesota Invitational; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Dan D’Addona.

The 2019 Minnesota Invitational started fast on Wednesday but got even faster on Thursday thanks to Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil.

Weitzeil broke the American record in the 50-yard freestyle (SCY) in 20.90 seconds to win the event over a trio of Michigan sprinters.

The Cal senior is the first woman to break 21 seconds. She held the previous American record at 21.02.

Abbey Weitzeil dropped 0.26 seconds from her seed time to touch the wall in the record time.

The Week That Was #1: WADA Bans Russia From International Competition

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By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has banned Russia from international sports events for the next four years in response to the manipulation of data related to thousands of doping tests.

The ban means Russia will miss the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, as well as the Winter Games in Beijing in 2022.

However, the ban also leaves the door open for individual Russian athletes top prove themselves innocent and compete under a neutral flag.  Those Russian athletes who are not implicated in doping may compete at a second straight Olympic Games, after Rio 2016, in neutral uniforms and with no flag nor anthem to accompany any medals they may win.

Cue complaints and legal challenges – on both sides of the argument. The sanctions go some way to acknowledging the seriousness of the latest Russian manipulation but fall shy of what many in world sport consider to be the zero-tolerance line that ought to be taken.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) attacked the WADA decision as “yet another devastating blow to clean athletes, the integrity of sport and the rule of law”.

WADA’s Executive Committee met this morning in Lausanne and agreed to adopt the recommendation of its Compliance Review Committee (CRC) to ban Russia from what it defines as ‘major international competitions’ for four years.
“The full list of recommendations have been unanimously accepted,” a spokesperson said.
The International Swimming League has already confirmed that any Russian athletes with no doping record will be allowed to compete in future meets since there are no flags nor anthems shown in the league. Russian swimmers Anton Chupkov and Evgeny Rylov have flourished in the new league.