Track and Field

Russian race walkers suspended after positive drug tests

Six world-class Russian race walkers including a world championship silver medallist have been suspended after failing doping tests a year before the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

WADA, China cracks down on exported drug products

Russia's Mikhail Ryzhov is one of six race walkers who have been suspended after failing drug tests. (Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press)

Six world-class Russian race walkers including a reigning European champion have been suspended after failing doping tests a year before the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Track and field's world governing body the IAAF told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the six all tested positive during out-of-competition testing in June in the Russian city of Saransk, home to a training facility with links to more than a dozen previous doping cases.

They are not allowed to compete until a final ruling is handed down by the Russian athletics federation, the International Association of Athletics Federations said.

Among those suspended is Elmira Alembekova, who won gold in the European women's 20-kilometre race last year, and Mikhail Ryzhov, winner of the silver medal in the 50-kilometre race at the 2013 world championships.

Also suspended are 2014 European bronze medallists Ivan Noskov and Denis Strelkov, ex-world junior champion Vera Sokolova, and Stanislav Emelyanov, who finished first in the 20-kilometre event at the 2010 European championship but was stripped of his gold medal last year after a doping investigation.

Emelyanov faces a lengthy ban if found guilty of a second offence. The IAAF declined to comment on reports in the Russian media that Emelyanov's backup "B" sample from the June testing had come back negative.

In July, Russia withdrew its entire walk team from the world championships the following month, saying it suspected possible doping, but did not reveal that the six athletes had already tested positive.

At the same time, the Russian national team's head coach Viktor Chegin announced his retirement while he was the target of investigations from the IAAF and Russian anti-doping authorities.

More than 25 Russian walkers have been punished for doping in recent years, with at least 20 of them trained by Chegin, including three Olympic champions banned earlier this year.

The IAAF is also investigating claims that other Russian walkers continued to compete while serving doping bans and both the IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency are looking into claims of systematic doping in Russian athletics as a whole.

Cutting off the supply

The World Anti-Doping Agency and Chinese officials have signed an agreement to crack down on the manufacture and supply of performance-enhancing drugs in China.

WADA announced the "memorandum of understanding" on Tuesday with the General Administration of Sport of China.

WADA says the agreement "signifies a significant breakthrough" in clamping down on illegal production of doping products in China "which are then exported to the outside world and all too often reach the hands of athletes."

The agency says the deal follows a recent U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigation that led to a large amount of doping products being seized, much of it obtained over the Internet from Chinese companies and laboratories.

WADA and Interpol, the international police organization, will provide information to Chinese law-enforcement organizations for targeting illegal suppliers.

With files from CBC Sports


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