May 4, 2018 / 8:34 AM / 16 days ago

IAAF suspends five Russian walkers from competing over banned coach

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The governing body of world athletics has suspended five Russian race walkers from competition pending further investigation of their participation in a training camp with a banned coach.

FILE PHOTO: Russia's Olga Kaniskina competes in the women's 20km race walk final at the London 2012 Olympic Games at The Mall August 11, 2012. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

The decision to revoke the neutral status of Klavdiya Afanasyeva, Olga Eliseeva, Yuliya Lipanova, Sergey Sharypov and Sergey Shirobokov, who won silver at the 2017 world championships, means they will not be eligible to compete at this week’s race walking team championships in China, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said in a statement on Friday.

The IAAF said the decision had been made pending a probe into “a number of serious issues” related to their participation in a training camp in Kyrgyzstan last month with coach Viktor Chegin, who was banned for life from athletics over the Russian doping scandal.

Russia’s athletics federation was suspended by the IAAF in 2015 following a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report containing allegations of state-supported doping, which Moscow has denied.

The IAAF has cleared some Russians to compete internationally as neutral athletes if they demonstrate that their training environment meets the required anti-doping standards.

The IAAF said it would review the race walkers’ status for further competitions this year once it had received more information from Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA and knew the outcome of further investigations.

Chegin, who was banned from the sport for life in 2016, had coached prominent race walkers including Olga Kaniskina, Sergei Kirdyapkin and Elena Lashmanova. These athletes all won Olympic gold medals but later served doping bans.

RUSADA director general Yuri Ganus called on the Russian athletics federation to take collective responsibility for the incident.

“I do not believe that the representatives of the national teams did not know that a coach who wasn’t supposed to be there was there,” RIA Novosti news agency quoted Ganus as saying on Friday. “This issue concerns all organisational levels of the federation. It must demonstrate that is controlling the process.”

The IAAF in March extended the Russian athletics federation’s suspension and warned that the country could face further sanctions.

RUSADA and the country’s Paralympic Committee remain suspended over allegations of state-sponsored doping.

For Russia’s suspended sports bodies to regain their accreditation, Moscow must acknowledge the findings of the WADA-commissioned report that found more than 1,000 Russian athletes benefited from a state-run scheme to conceal positive tests over a five-year period.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Toby Davis

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