6 Russian race-walkers suspended over positive drug tests
MOSCOW (AP) 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-kilometer race last year, and Mikhail Ryzhov, winner of the silver medal in the 50-kilometer race at the 2013 world championships.
Also suspended are 2014 European bronze medalists Ivan Noskov and Denis Strelkov, ex-world junior champion Vera Sokolova, and Stanislav Emelyanov, who finished first in the 20-kilometer 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 offense. 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.