MOSCOW (AP) Former Olympic 800-meter champion Yuri Borzakovsky has been hired permanently as Russia's new top athletics coach, tasked with rebuilding a team badly hit by doping scandals.
The 33-year-old Borzakovsky, who won gold at the 2004 Olympics, got the job on a temporary basis in February after veteran coach Valentin Maslakov resigned following a string of doping bans for Russian athletes.
''Today an order was signed by (Russian Sports Minister) Vitaly Leontyevich Mutko that Yuri has been named head coach,'' Russian athletics federation spokesperson Alla Glushchenko told The Associated Press, adding that Borzakovsky's ''primary task'' was to prepare Russia for the European team championships on home soil in June, with a longer-term aim of success at next year's Olympics.
Borzakovsky takes charge at a time when the Russian team remains under investigation by the IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency following the broadcast of a German TV documentary in December which alleged doping was systematic in the country and facilitated by federation officials and even Russian anti-doping authorities.
This season, the allegations have led to some Russian athletes being questioned by WADA investigators at competitions, despite protests by team officials.
Four Russian Olympic gold medal winners have received doping bans so far this year, adding to dozens of the country's track and field competitors currently serving suspensions. Borzakovsky has said he is confident Russia now has ''a new team and everyone in it is clean'' as it prepares for the 2016 Olympics.