European medalist among 4 Russians banned for doping

MOSCOW (AP) Irina Maracheva was stripped of her 800-meter silver medal from the 2012 European Championships in one of four doping cases announced Monday involving female Russian athletes.

The sanctions were among the first handed down by the Russian Olympic Committee, which has gained some authority over the Russian track and field federation since it was banned from global competition in November over allegations of systematic doping.

Maracheva received a two-year ban through January 2017 and will lose her European silver medal because of a suspicious blood sample she gave at the time, the Russian athletics federation said.

Maracheva originally finished third in the 800 final in 2012 but was upgraded to silver when Russian teammate Yelena Arzhakova was disqualified from the gold-medal position for doping.

Britain's Lynsey Sharp, who inherited the gold medal, posted a picture on Twitter on Monday of herself with Maracheva and Arzhakova, commenting: ''Remember that time I was the only clean athlete on the podium?''

With Maracheva banned, her European silver medal will go to Maryna Arzamasava of Belarus. Ukraine's Liliya Lobanova moves up to bronze.

Several other Russian 800-meter runners have either been given doping bans in recent years or are under investigation, including Olympic champion Mariya Savinova and bronze medalist Ekaterina Poistogova, who were filmed allegedly discussing doping in undercover footage shot by a whistleblower.

Race walker Anna Lukyanova was banned for two years and stripped of her silver medal from the 2010 world junior championships. She joins a list of more than 30 doping cases in recent years linked to the Russian national walking center in the city of Saransk.

Receiving four-year bans were Maria Nikolaeva, an 800-meter specialist, and Elena Nikulina, who runs the 400.

The cases of Maracheva, Lukyanova and Nikolaeva were all based on blood data from the IAAF's biological passport system. Nikulina tested positive for the banned steroid turinabol at the Russian national college meet, the track federation said. Biological passport cases rely on multiple blood samples from a period of several years.

Maracheva's coach, speaking to Russia's state Tass news agency, claimed the athlete was innocent and had unusual blood values because of a childhood head injury.

''Her blood values vary very strongly at altitude,'' Zamira Zaitseva was quoted as saying.

On Monday, the track federation also said a coach, Lyudmila Fedoriva, had been banned for four years over ''falsification'' with regards to doping tests, without specifying the exact nature of her offense.

Separately, Russia's anti-doping agency announced bans for three national-level cyclists and a triathlete.

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