ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Alexander Bolshunov torched the field to win his first Olympic gold medal in Sunday’s skiathlon before hitting back at insinuations that Russian athletes at the Beijing Olympics could not be trusted when it comes to doping.
For the third consecutive Games, Russian athletes are participating as neutrals, barred from competing under their own flag after their anti-doping agency was found to be not in compliance by the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA).
When Bolshunov triumphantly crossed the finish line over a minute ahead of his compatriot Denis Spitsov, who won silver, he did so bearing the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee, rather than that of Russia.
When asked about his dominant performance and what the explanation for it was, Bolshunov faced the issue head-on.
“You’re hinting at doping … this should have nothing to do with sports. We have clean sportsmen, clean athletes who are at the Olympics who do doping tests almost every day,” he said.
“We have to fill out these forms indicating where we will be training, what time, we show the time window when we can take a test, when we are going to be traveling, if I use a plane or a train from one place to another,” Bolshunov added.
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“I believe it’s wrong to ask us these questions — you don’t achieve these results all of a sudden, you don’t become an Olympic champion, because it takes years and years of training.”
Bolshunov then issued a personal invitation to journalists to come see the Russian team train and to see the work they put in to get to the Olympics.
“Theses training sessions are very difficult, believe me, and after you have seen how we train, I believe you and your audience will never have these questions again,” he said.