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Written by Amanda Turner    Saturday, 16 April 2016 23:25    PDF Print
List of 2016 Men's Olympic Qualifiers
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

The International Gymnastics Federation released the updated list of men's Olympic qualifiers following the second qualifier Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.

Artistic gymnastics has allotments for 98 men and 98 women at this summer's Olympic Games in Rio. Twelve full teams may send five gymnasts each, allowing for 38 additional individual gymnasts.

The list reflects the results from the first qualifier at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, where the first eight teams earned automatic qualification to the Olympic Games. Germany, Ukraine, Netherlands and France earned the final four spots for teams on Saturday. The four other teams competing on Saturday — Romania, Belgium, Spain and Canada — each earn one spot to be decided by their respective National Olympic Committees.

In Glasgow, individual event medalists whose teams did not eventually qualify were also guaranteed qualification spots to the Olympics.

After team allotments and apparatus qualifiers from the world championships, that left 24 available spaces for individuals from Saturday's competition, with a limit of one per country. Three countries — Colombia, Mexico and Hungary — had two gymnasts placing within the top ranks, and may choose to send either gymnast this summer. Algeria's Mohamed Bourguieg, who placed outside the top ranks on Saturday, was given the final spot in order to fulfill the requirement of full continental representation, as no other gymnast from Africa had qualified via other methods.

Gymnasts must also earn a stamp of approval from their own National Olympic Committees. In the past, several gymnasts have had to overcome additional qualification hurdles, such as Kyle Shewfelt in 2000, who needed to win a World Cup medal before the Canadian Olympic Committee would agree to send him to Sydney. In 2008, Veronica Wagner qualified for her second Olympic Games, but the Swedish Olympic Committee declined to send her to Beijing. The New Zealand Olympic Committee is reportedly requiring a top-16 international finish, putting additional pressure on qualifier Misha Koudinov.

One more spot will be awarded from the Tripartite Commission.

Olympic qualification competition for women takes place Sunday in Rio.

2016 Olympic Gymnastics Qualifiers: Artistic Gymnastics

Men's Team: Spots 1-60
3.Great Britain
5.United States
8.South Korea

Men's Individuals: Spots 61-98
61.Rayderley Zapata*
62.Harutyun Merdinyan*
63.Eleftherios Petrounias*
64.Ri Se Gwang*
65.Marian Dragulescu*
66.Oleg Stepko*
67.Manrique Larduet*
68.Jossimar Calvo or Javier Sandoval
69.Daniel Corral or Kevin Cerda
70.Andrei Likhovitsky
71.Alexander Shatilov
72.Ferhat Arıcan
73.To be decided by Spanish National Olympic Committee
74.Artur Davtyan
75.Randy Lerú
76.Filip Ude
77.To be decided by Belgian National Olympic Committee
78.Petro Pakhnyuk
79.Anton Fokin
80.To be decided by Romanian National Olympic Committee
81.Oskar Kirmes
82.Ludovico Edalli
83.Stian Skjerahaug
84.David Jessen
85.Robert Tvorogal
86.Phạm Phước Hưng
87.Marios Georgiou
88.Kieran Behan
89.Vlasios Maras
90.Gustavo Simões
91.Misha Koudinov
92.Ryan Patterson
93.Tomás González
94.Botond Kardos or Vid Hidvégi
95.Lee Chih Kai
96.Mohamed Bourguieg**
97.To be decided by Canadian National Olympic Committee
98.Tripartite Commission Invitation Place
R1.Nicolas Cordoba
R2.Michael Mercieca
R3.Luis Rivera

* Earned direct qualification by winning apparatus medal at 2015 World Championships
** Contintental representative for Africa
Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 14 April 2016 14:55    PDF Print
Kuksenkov Likely Reprieved After WADA Announcement
(4 votes, average 4.50 out of 5)

Russian national champion Nikolai Kuksenkov is expected to return to competition soon following his positive test in March for the banned substance meldonium, the Russian Gymnastics Federation announced Wednesday.

Russian national champion Nikolai Kuksenkov is expected to return to competition soon following his positive test in March for the banned substance meldonium, the Russian Gymnastics Federation announced Wednesday.

The news came after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) admitted this week that "there is currently limited data available" on how long meldonium stays in the system after use. Since the drug was placed on WADA's banned substance list on January 1, 2016, 172 athletes have tested positive, WADA President Sir Craig Reedie said. Those athletes have all been suspended pending WADA prosecution.

There has been considerable backlash over the positive tests, with suspended athletes – Kuksenkov included – insisting they had not taken meldonium in many months. The manufacturers of the medication, which has a wide variety of uses, confirmed it may remain in the system for several months. According to the Russian Gymnastics Federation, Kuksenkov last took the substance in August 2015, when it was removed from the medical supplies following WADA notification that it would be banned in January.

Meldonium, which it is used for everything from heart conditions to diabetes, is available via prescription and over the counter in Eastern Europe. It was popular among athletes, as it increases blood flow and oxygen circulation to the muscles.

WADA admitted Wednesday that its preliminary tests showed that it could take weeks or months for the drug to leave the body, allowing the possibility that athletes who tested positive "could not reasonably have known or suspected" that meldonium was still present in their systems.

"In these circumstances WADA considers that there may be grounds for no fault or negligence on the part of the athlete," WADA stated. The organization stated that more research into meldonium's accurate time span in the body was ongoing.

Kuksenkov, 26, tested positive for meldonium in a March 15 test conducted by WADA in Russia. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency received a letter from WADA on April 1 that trace amounts of meldonium were detected in Kuksenkov's sample, "indicating possible usage" of the banned substance. The federation was notified that day, hours after Kuksenkov had won his first all-around national title; he was forced to withdraw from the apparatus finals at the national championships.

"It is unreasonable and unfair," Kuksenkov said after his suspension. "I consider myself an honest athlete, and the truth is on my side."

All the athletes who tested positive for meldonium have been provisionally suspended within their respective sports, but none have been officially banned or stripped of any competition results. WADA stated provisional suspensions could be lifted if the concentration of meldonium in the system was between 1 and 15 micrograms per milliliter for tests conducted before March 1, or if the level was below 1 microgram per milliliter for tests conducted after March 1. Investigations will proceed for athletes who admitted taking it on or after January 1, for concentrations between 1 and 15 micrograms per milliliter for tests conducted after March 1, or if the level was above 15 micrograms per milliliter for tests conducted at any date.

The announcement was enough to allow the Russian Gymnastics Federation to reinstate Kuksenkov. While his test was conducted after March 1, the federation is confident the "trace amount" in his system would not lead to WADA prosecution.

"While we don't have the official data on the amount of content of the substance in Nikolai's system, according to our information and expectations, Kuksenkov should be allowed to compete," said Russian team coach Valentina Rodionenko.

Meldonium, which was invented by a Latvian company in the 1970s, is very popular in Eastern Europe, where it is used for everything from heart conditions to diabetes. It is available via prescription and over the counter. It was in heavy use among elite athletes, as it increases blood flow and oxygen circulation to the muscles. Forty of the suspended athletes are Russian, including tennis superstar Maria Sharapova, world speed skating champion Pavel Kulizhnikov and world swimming champion Yulia Yefimova.

Meldonium was in use by the Russian men's team, apparently to aid muscle recovery after workout, but Russian women's team doctor Vladimir Timonkin stated in an interview this week he stopped prescribing it several years ago, as he did not see any benefits.

"Each sport has its own specific requirements and products, as well as its supplements," Timonkin said. "And the team doctor at the end of the year writes the annual application (to the Federal Biomedical Agency) of necessary drugs for his own team next year, for absolutely all cases: dietary supplements, antibiotics, antihistamines, any group. There was a time when we used it. But then we all agreed that the team should stop using it, not because I had some particular insight. It just made sense to me to cancel it. Opinions on preparations develop over the years, and observations occur. And when you start to write the annual application, you ask the question – do you really need this drug? Is it effective or not? I personally said no."

Kuksenkov has been a key part of the Russian team since 2013. He moved to Russia following the 2012 Olympic Games, his last competition for his native Ukraine. The Russian men are preparing for next month's European championships in Bern, where they are the defending team champions, and this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where they will be team medal contenders. Russia finished fourth at last fall's world championships.

Update: On Friday, April 15, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency notified the Russian Gymnastics Federation that it had officially lifted Kuksenkov's suspension, formally allowing him to return to competition.

External Link: WADA statement on meldonium and official meldonium notice

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 14 April 2016 08:42    PDF Print
Olympic Test Event Begins Saturday
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Podium training begins Thursday at the Rio Olympic Arena for the 2016 Aquece Gymnastics Test Event, the final opportunity for gymnasts to earn direct qualification to this summer's Olympic Games. Pictured: Brazilian hopeful Flávia Saraiva

Men's podium training begins Thursday at the Rio Olympic Arena for the 2016 Aquece Gymnastics Test Event, the final opportunity for gymnasts to earn direct qualification to this summer's Olympic Games. Teams that already qualified were also eligible to send gymnasts to compete for experience.

Women's podium training takes place on Friday. The men's qualification competition is on Saturday and the women on Sunday. The apparatus finals for both is on Sunday.

At stake this weekend are team and individual berths. In both men's and women's artistic gymnastics, eight teams will battle it out for the four remaining team spots for this summer, when 12 nations will compete in the team competition. The artistic gymnastics quota for the Olympic Games remains the same in 2016, with spots for 96 women and 96 men. That includes 60 gymnasts for the team competition representing the 12 five-gymnast squads, plus 36 individuals.

The competition this weekend is the second Olympic qualification after last fall's world championships in Glasgow, where the top eight teams for men and women earned automatic qualification to the Olympic Games. (Gymnasts who won event medals in Glasgow also earned automatic qualification if their teams did not place in the top eight.) Teams that finished ninth to 16th in Glasgow advanced full teams to this weekend's event, while teams that finished 19th to 24th were were invited to send two individuals.

The FIG allotted 40 individual spots each for men and women at the Rio test event, based on finishes at the 2015 Worlds. (The recent withdrawal of Sweden's Jonna Adlerteg, who tore her meniscus, has dropped the number of women to 39, however.) Individual gymnasts did not qualify to the test event directly based on their finishes in Glasgow; federations were free to nominate gymnasts based on their own criteria. The Jamaica federation, for example, snubbed former British competitors Reiss Beckford and Danusia Francis (80th and 66th in Glasgow, respectively) in favor of Caleb Faulk and Toni-Ann Williams, despite their lower finishes in Glasgow (165th and 93rd, respectively).

Despite the attention on the home team, the highest-profile female gymnast in Rio will be six-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, who will be attempting to become the first gymnast to ever compete in seven Olympic Games. Chusovitina, who turns 41 in June, has been training an impressive new double-twisting Tsukahara vault.

Venezuela's Jessica López (2008 and 2012) and Greece's Vasiliki Millousi (2000 and 2012) are each aiming for their third Olympic Games.

The Brazilian men have already qualified a full team through their placing in Glasgow, where they finished seventh in preliminaries. The women, however, finished ninth in Glasgow, but are favored to qualify on Sunday, boosted by the home crowd and the return of Rebeca Andrade, who was out with injury last year.

The Romanian women, who finished a very unlucky 13th in Glasgow, face a more uphill battle. Catalina Ponor is back, after missing last year's worlds with a calf injury that required surgery. However, the team has lost two-time world all-around medalist Larisa Iordache, who is out with a broken finger. Belgium, 11th in Glasgow, is expected to be a force with the addition of first-year senior Axelle Klinckaert. The competition will be a very close fight with France and Germany gunning for the top four, and European champion Giulia Steingruber leading the Swiss charge.

In the men's competition, full teams from Germany, France and Belgium will also be competing for spots. A shoulder injury to three-time Olympian Fabian Hambüchen has weakened the German squad, which will rely heavily on Marcel Nguyen and Andreas Bretschneider. Ukraine's Oleg Vernyayev has already qualified as an individual thanks to his silver medal on parallel bars in Glasgow, but has the potential to lead Ukraine to a top-four finish.

Belarus, which finished 16th in Glasgow, declined its spot, allowing 17th-place Belgium the unexpected chance to send a full team. Belarus instead sent two individuals.

The men's individual competition includes many gymnasts expected to not just qualify but have an impact on the competition this summer, particularly South Americans Tomás González (Chile) and Jossimar Calvo (Colombia). Calvo withdrew from last weekend's Pacific Rim Championships with a minor pulled muscle in order to concentrate on the test event.

Though the Brazilian men already qualified a full team, reigning Olympic still rings champion Arthur Zanetti leads a small field of competitors truly using the competition as a test event. Other competitors whose teams have already qualified include Brazil's Sérgio Sasaki, Canada's Isabela Onyshko and Victoria-Kayen Woo, China's Liao Junlin, Americans Jake Dalton and John Orozco; Great Britain's Brinn Bevan, Becky Downie, Gabby Jupp and Nile Wilson; and Dutch twins Lieke and Sanne Wevers.

External Link: FIG Olympic Qualification Guidelines

2016 Aquece Gymnastics Test Event
April 16-18, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Olympic Qualifier: Women's Teams
Georgia-Rose Brown1995
Alexandra Eade1998
Emily Little1994
Larrissa Miller1992
Rianna Mizzen1999
Kiara Munteanu1997
Emma Nedov1996
Julie Croket1994
Senna Deriks2000
Rune Hermans1999
Axelle Klinckaert2000
Gäelle Mys1991
Cindy Vandenhole1999
Laura Waem1997
Rebeca Andrade1999
Jade Barbosa1991
Daniele Hypólito1984
Lorrane Oliveira1998
Carolyne Pedro2000
Flávia Saraiva1999
Milena Theodoro1999
Camille Bahl1999
Marine Boyer2000
Marine Brevet1994
Loan His1999
Anne Kuhm1996
Oréane Lechenault2000
Louise Vanhille1998
Tabea Alt2000
Maike Enderle2000
Leah Griesser1998
Pauline Schäfer1997
Sophie Scheder1997
Elisabeth Seitz1993
Pauline Tratz1999
Jeong Heeyeon1997
Kim Chaeyeon1998
Kim Juran1997
Lee Eun Ju1999
Lee Goim2000
Lee Hyebeen1998
Yun Narae1997
Diana Bulimar1995
Maria Holbura2000
Andreea Iridon1999
Anamaria Ocolișan1997
Cătălina Ponor1987
Dora Vulcan1999
Silvia Zarzu1998
Caterina Barloggio1996
Thea Brogli2000
Nicole Hitz1997
Ilaria Käslin1997
Laura Schulte1997
Stefanie Siegenthaler1998
Giulia Steingruber1994
Olympic Qualifier: Men's Teams
Maxime Gentges1995
Daan Kenis1994
Luka van den Keybus1997
Florian Landuyt1996
Bram Louwije1994
Jimmy Verbaeys1993
Siemon Volkaert1992
René Cournoyer1997
Ken Ikeda1982
Anderson Loran1991
Scott Morgan1989
Jackson Payne1991
Hugh Smith1984
Samuel Zakutney1998
Nestor Abad1993
Ruben López1990
Andrés Martín1996
Joel Plata1998
Alberto Tallón1993
Adrià Vera1996
Rayderley Zapata1993
Kévin Antoniotti1989
Axel Augis1990
Guillaume Augugliaro1991
Julien Gobaux1990
Zachari Hrimèche1997
Samir Aït Saïd1989
Cyril Tommasone1987
Andreas Bretschneider1989
Lukas Dauser1993
Philipp Herder1992
Helge Liebrich1988
Marcel Nguyen1987
Ivan Rittschik1992
Andreas Toba1990
Anthony van Assche1989
Michel Bletterman1992
Bart Deurloo1991
Frank Rijken1996
Casimir Schmidt1995
Jeffrey Wammes1987
Epke Zonderland1986
Cristian Bățagă1988
Marius Berbecar1985
Vlad Cotuna1990
Marian Dragulescu1980
Andrei Muntean1993
Ioan Nistor1992
Alexandru Ursache1988
Vladyslav Hryko1997
Igor Radivilov1992
Maksym Semiankiv1992
Andrii Sienichkin1991
Oleg Vernyayev1993
Illia Yehorov1995

Olympic Qualifier: Women's Individuals
Farah Boufadene1999
Ailén Valente1996
Houry Gebeshian1989
Lisa Ecker1992
Elisa Hämmerle1995
Marina Nekrasova1995
Kylie Dickson1999
Simona Castro1989
Catalina Escobar1990
Ana Đerek1998
Marcia Vidiaux1999
Claudia Colom1998
Ana Pérez1997
Argyro Afrati1998
Vasiliki Millousi1984
Ana Sofía Gómez1995
Zsófia Kovács2000
Noémi Makra1997
Dipa Karmakar1993
Ellis O'Reilly1998
Irina Sazonova1991
Toni-Ann Williams1995
Farah Ann Abdul Hadi1994
Ana Lago1995
Alexa Moreno1994
Courtney McGregor1998
Ariana Orrego1998
Gabriela Janik1993
Katarzyna Jurkowska-Kowalska1992
Ana Filipa Martins1996
Teja Belak1994
Barbora Mokošová1997
Emma Larsson1998
Thema Williams1995
Tutya Yılmaz1999
Angelina Kysla1991
Oksana Chusovitina1975
Jessica López1986
Phan Thị Hà Thanh1991
Olympic Qualifier: Men's Individuals
Mohamed Abdeldjalil Bourguieg1996
Nicolás Córdoba1989
Artur Davtyan1992
Michael Mercieca1991
Petro Pakhnyuk1991
Dmitry Barkalov1986
Andrei Likhovitsky1986
Tomás González1985
Jossimar Calvo1994
Javier Sandoval1993
Tarik Soto1994
Filip Ude1986
Randy Lerú1995
Marios Georgiou1997
David Jessen1996
Oskar Kirmes1995
Christos Lympanovnos1984
Vlasios Maras1983
Wai Hung Shek1991
Vid Hidvégi1986
Botond Kardos1997
Kieran Behan1989
Alexander Shatilov1987
Ludovico Edalli1993
Matteo Morandi1981
Caleb Faulk1993
Robert Tvorogal1994
Kevin Cerda1994
Daniel Corral1990
Stian Skjerahaug1992
Misha Koudinov1991
Gustavo Simões1990
Andres Pérez1998
Luis Rivera1986
Ryan Patterson1994
Chen Chih-Yu1988
Lee Chih Kai1996
Ferhat Arıcan1993
Anton Fokin1982
Phạm Phước Hưng1988

Test Event: Women's Competitors
Isabela Onyshko1998
Victoria-Kayen Woo1997
Gong Kangyi2000
Zhang Jin2000
Becky Downie1992
Gabby Jupp1997
Giorgia Campana1995
Lara Mori1998
Lieke Wevers1991
Sanne Wevers1991
Test Event: Men's Competitors
Sérgio Sasaki1992
Arthur Zanetti1990
Liao Junlin1990
Sun Wei1995
Brinn Bevan1997
Nile Wilson1996
Chihiro Yoshioka1991
Kim Hansol1995
Yoo Wonchul1984
Taha Serhani1995
Kevin Rossi1990
Jake Dalton1991
John Orozco1992
Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 05 April 2016 06:27    PDF Print
Aussie Women 'Enthusiastic' Heading Toward Olympic Test Event
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Australian women's national team head coach Peggy Liddick told IG that the mix of veterans and newcomers of her team for this month's Olympic test event in Rio de Janeiro is designed to produce optimal results which could earn a berth to this summer's Rio Games. Pictured: Emma Nedov

Australian women's national team head coach Peggy Liddick told IG that the mix of veterans and newcomers on her team for this month's Olympic test event in Rio de Janeiro is designed to produce optimal results which could earn a berth to this summer's Rio Games.

"Each time any team is selected, the objective is to cover all the apparatus with the strongest athletes that are available," Liddick said. "That was the objective for the selection of this team."

Emily Little at the 2012 Olympics

The Australian team for the test event includes Georgia Rose Brown, Emily Little, Larrissa Miller, Emma Nedov, Rianna Mizzen and Emily Whitehead.

Australia placed 14th at last fall's World Championships in Glasgow, where the top eight teams earned automatic berths to the Rio Games. The next eight teams in Glasgow advanced to the test event, from which the top four teams will move on to the Games. Artistic gymnastics at the test event will take place April 16-18.

Liddick said Brown and Nedov are slated for the all-around at the test event. Brown placed 21st all-around at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, where Nedov was first reserve for the balance beam final. Australia placed seventh in the team final in Nanning.

Little, who placed 15th all-around at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, is still recovering from elbow surgery and will not compete on uneven bars at the test event, Liddick said.

2012 Olympian Miller, who placed sixth on floor exercise at the 2014 Worlds, is expected to compete on uneven bars and floor exercise.

Newcomers Emily Whitehead and Rianna Mizzen should add to the team's depth at the test event, Liddick said.

Whitehead placed first all-around at the 2015 Australian Junior Championships, and Mizzen is the reigning Australian champion on uneven bars.

"Both had strong training and competitions at the trial/camp and were healthy at the trial," Liddick said. "Both have strong bars, but will contribute on all four apparatus."

Liddick said her gymnasts are training diligently and confidently for the test event, which follows the Pacific Rim Championships that will take place April 8-10 in Everett, Washington.

"The entire team is going about the business of preparation for a competition," Liddick told IG. "They are enthusiastic and looking forward to Rio after they participate in Pac Rim for a warm-up event."

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Australian gymnastics includes:
Alysha Djuric profile (July/August 2014)
Georgia Godwin interview (October 2015)
Peggy Liddick interview (October 2015)
"The Lowdown from Liddick" – comments from Liddick (June 2014)
"Catching up with Allana Slater" – profile (April 2014)
Georgia Godwin cover photo (March 2014)

To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions of International Gymnast magazine, or order back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Sunday, 03 April 2016 16:23    PDF Print
Russians Request Kuksenkov's Doping Sample from Stuttgart
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The Russians will formally request national champion Nikolai Kuksenkov's doping sample from the recent World Cup in Stuttgart following his positive test for meldonium, the federation stated Sunday. Pictured: Kuksenkov performs in Stuttgart on March 20.

The Russians will formally request national champion Nikolai Kuksenkov's doping sample from the recent World Cup in Stuttgart following his positive test for meldonium, while Kuksenkov has spoken out about his positive test.

Kuksenkov was provisionnally suspended from the Russian national team on Friday after it was revealed he tested positive for minute traces of the banned substance in a random doping test on March 15. On March 20, he won the bronze medal at the FIG World Cup in Stuttgart, Germany.

"Kolya's a responsible guy," Russian coach Valentina Rodionenko told news agency F-Sport. "He'll never take an extra tablet. He's shocked."

If Kuksenkov is handed a more severe punishment, it would be a major blow to the Russian men, who are contenders for a team medal this summer at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Russia finished fourth at the 2015 World Championships.

Positive doping tests are highly rare in gymnastics and are mainly limited to cases of gymnasts using the masking agent furosemide to shed water weight, as well as a few who have tested positive for recreational drugs. Gymnastics' only real doping scandal to date was Romania's Andreea Raducan's positive test for pseudoephedrine at the 2000 Olympic Games, which she ingested via cold medicine. She was stripped of her all-around gold medal. (Pseudoephedrine is no longer on the banned list.)

On Friday, Kuksenkov won the all-around title in Penza, his first Russian all-around title. The Kiev native moved to Russia following the 2012 Olympics in London, where he finished fourth with the Ukrainian team. The letter announcing his positive results from the March 15th test arrived after his all-around result, and he was forced to withdraw from the Russian championships.

Meldonium, invented in the 1970s by a Latvian company, is a popular medication in Eastern Europe, where it is prescribed for a multitude of diseases and as a preventative medicine. It first appeared on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list on January 1, 2016. The drug has a half-life of about six hours, but according to its manufacturer, it can conceivably take up to months for all traces of the drug to leave the system. By mid-March 2016, more than 120 athletes have tested positive for meldonium, with many insisting they had not taken it in months.

Kuksenkov told Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets (MK) that the standard practice for the national team is to take three to four supplements daily after workout, supplied by the team physician. Gymnasts are forbidden from taking anything on their own.

"We are strictly forbidden from buying medicine at the pharmacy, even if someone is sick!" he said. "Because two sprays for the nose or throat can be quite different: one has banned components, the other is OK. Everything goes through the team doctor."

Kuksenkov told MK he did not notice any particular benefits to meldonium since he has stopped taking it.

"[It has] no tangible benefits," Kuksenkov said. "Perhaps it somehow acts on the heart muscle, but you know that we rarely have a problem of doping in gymnastics in general. It's a complicated, highly coordinated sport where precision in movement is important, which no kind of doping will help!"

Kuksenkov, who turns 27 in June, expressed his frustration over the situation.

"The low concentration of the drug in my sample can easily determine that I did not take it in a long time," Kuksenkov said. "So we talk about the traces [of the drug]. But these are old traces. Everyone knows that meldonium stays about two years. And even those who last took it a year ago, it will pop up! It is unreasonable and unfair. I consider myself an honest athlete, and the truth is on my side. Hopefully, the Russian Gymnastics Federation will support me."

Rodionenko said she is also frustrated and is worried people will jump to conclusions and assume Kuksenkov is guilty of doping.

"This is a misunderstanding," Rodionenko said. "This hasn't just affected us. I think that there will be people jumping to conclusions about this story. Now we don't know what to expect after the story — it's kind of savagery. Our guys are hurting, are getting ready, don't take anything illegally.... Moreover, it's a drug that is generally difficult to understand why it's appeared on the doping list in the first place."

External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation


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