Olympic champ walkers back in Russian team after doping bans
MOSCOW (AP) Three Olympic champion race walkers have returned to the Russian national team after serving doping bans.
Sergei Kirdyapkin, Olga Kaniskina and Elena Lashmanova were all named in an updated team list on the Russian Sports Ministry's website Monday, meaning they could compete at the Olympics in August if the Russian team's suspension from track and field is lifted in time.
Russia had previously avoided picking athletes who had served doping bans as it tries to rebuild its reputation following its suspension in November by the IAAF following allegations of systematic doping.
Kirdyapkin last month lost his Olympic gold medal in the 50-kilometer walk when the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled his doping sanction was too lenient. Kaniskina lost a silver medal.
The return of the three to the national team could prompt tension with track's governing body, which has ordered Russian track officials to ''immediately suspend all cooperation'' with their government-run training center in the city of Saransk. More than 25 doping cases have come from the center's athletes and the top coach was banned for life last month for doping offenses.
When they raced at the Russian championships this year, documents listed Kirdyapkin and Kaniskina as having coaches from the Saransk center. Lashmanova did not race and is listed as injured.
Kirdyapkin, Kaniskina and Lashmanova are also among a group of Russian walkers and officials who remain under investigation by the IAAF over a 2014 incident in which several top Russian walkers were photographed apparently competing in a domestic competition despite serving suspensions and bans at the time.