• Winter Olympics

Russia survive Sochi cheat claim

ESPN staff
February 14, 2014
Russia's Elena Nikitina has been cleared to continue her challenge to Great Britain's Lizzy Yarnold © Getty Images

Sochi 2014 host nation Russia have avoided potential embarrassment after their skeleton sliding team were cleared over protests of their use of a secret £30 million push track facility.

Great Britain's Lizzy Yarnold takes a commanding overnight lead into the final two runs on Friday, but faces competition for a medal from the Russians who have three riders placed in the top six. Yarnold leads America's Noelle Pikus-Pace by 0.44 seconds and is 0.5 seconds ahead of the top Russian, Elena Nikitina, in third.

It has been reported that the secret course replicated the start of the official track at the Sanki Sliding Centre, giving the Russians a significant advantage. The Australian team alleged the Russians even used it in between runs on Thursday as they lodged an official complaint.

Under Olympic rules, all training facilities within the cordon of the Games must be made available to all competing countries. But the International Bobsled and Toboggan Federation have waived away Australia's appeal. An FIBT statement said: "The push track has not been homologated by the FIBT and therefore is not within the Field of Play and the FIBT jury has no control over the push track."

Even in the build-up to the Games, the Russians have had more time on the track at the Sanki Sliding Centre than any other nation, with Nikitina skipping the last World Cup tournament to concentrate her efforts on extra training for Sochi.

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