After suspiciously missing three required anti-doping tests in 2021-22, Russian cyclist Aigul Gareeva, the 2019 amateur junior world time trial champion, has been banned 18-months.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), which itself has been banned from the World Anti Doping Agency because of past doping cover-ups and manipulation of evidence, handed down a very light 18-month sentence in the case, according government run news TASS.

But Gareeva will now be eligible to return to competition within Russia in less than 11 months. She started provisionally serving the ban on 17 September 2021 and it will end on 16 March 2023.

Irakli Abrahamyan, head coach of the Russian National Cycling Team, downplayed the anti-doping violations and ban as just teenage carelessness, “She was not found to have doping, Gareeva was suspended for another violation which was the result of her carelessness, one might say so.” 

Due to Russia’s ongoing unprovoked and unjustified attacks on Ukraine, even when Gareeva’s ban is lifted, at present the International Cycling Union (UCI) will not allow her (or any Russian cyclists) to compete in sanctioned events.

Photos: F. Ossola