Russia's Nifontova granted Dakar entry after doping case

Anastasiya Nifontova will be allowed to take part in the 2017 Dakar Rally following her doping case and provisional suspension, as the FIM has opted to grant her a one-event license.

Russia's Nifontova granted Dakar entry after doping case
Listen to this article

Nifontova, 37, had been gearing up for her first Dakar participation, but her debut came under threat when traces of “non-specified substance” meldonium were found in her urine sample during the Moroccan round of the Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

However, the Russian rider worked to assemble documents in order to reverse the suspension, and her efforts eventually paid off.

In a statement regarding its ruling, the FIM wrote: “The exceptional decision has been taken after important facts emerged in the course of the ongoing investigation of the case, and is notably based on clarified and updated medical information supplied by Ms Anastasiya Nifontova to the FIM.

“After a careful balancing of the various interests at stake, the FIM considers that not to allow the MFR [Motorcycle Federation of Russia] to issue a One Event International Licence for the 2017 Dakar Rally to Ms Anastasiya Nifontova, thereby preventing her from taking part in this event, could cause her irreparable harm.”

The official announcement of the decision arrived just two days before the start of the marathon.
Nifontova, who will contest the event on the #59 Husqvarna FR 450, commented: “I feel like I'm at the finish of Dakar already, everybody has congratulated me... and, of course, I'm very exhausted, it was very stressful. Now I have to calm down and to look forward to the race.

“I'm not sure about my sporting result, as for the last two months I didn't have enough time to prepare myself, but I think everything will be okay.”

Doping scandals involving Russian sportspeople have been a major staple of this past sporting year, punctuated by the travails of the country's Olympic team and the ban handed out to tennis star Maria Sharapova over a positive test for meldonium – the very same substance that landed Nifontova in trouble.

The Russian rider, however, was keen to distance herself from any other Russia-related doping scandals.

“In my particular case, everything was very objective, without any special additives from a political point of view or anything – and I want to thank the FIM for their objective work,” she said.

“I cannot say anything about the other cases, I don't know a lot about them. All the cases are connected with Olympics teams, they have doctors, lawyers, all the personnel...

“I am a rider of my own, I don't have that many employers. My case stands apart from all of this.”


Ten things to watch for in the 2017 Dakar Rally

Loeb says aiming for 2017 Dakar victory “a bit pretentious”