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Russian walker to lose Olympic gold medal after court ruling

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MOSCOW (AP) Four years later, Jared Tallent can call himself Olympic champion.

When the Australian race walker was beaten to the gold medal at the 2012 London Games by Sergei Kirdyapkin, Tallent believed the Russian was cheating.

Last year, Kirdyapkin was handed a retroactive three-year doping ban. But the sanction imposed by the Russian anti-doping agency didn't cover his results at the Olympics, letting him keep the 50-kilometer gold that Tallent considered should be his.

The Russian ruling was overturned Thursday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, putting Tallent in line to finally claim his gold.

''I'm just very, very happy to know that I am rightfully and will be officially named as the Olympic champion from London,'' Tallent told The Associated Press by telephone. ''It's something that I felt on the day and ever since when I raced. This is a victory for clean athletes.''

All that is left now is for the International Olympic Committee to formally reallocate the medal and for Tallent to get his own belated medal ceremony. The Australian Olympic Committee is already making plans for the presentation, he said.

''As long as there's a prompt return of the gold medal, they'll make sure there's a significant presentation to myself and they'll invite the IAAF president to be there,'' Tallent said.

China's Si Tianfeng would move up to silver, with bronze for Ireland's Rob Heffernan.

The Switzerland-based CAS also extended punishments for five other Russian athletes who, the court found, had improperly had their results allowed to stand despite doping bans. Russia will also lose an Olympic silver medal and two world championship gold medals.

The six cases before CAS were based on the biological passport system, which tracks unusual blood values for signs of doping.

RUSADA had argued that its suspensions applied only to times when the athletes' blood values were extreme, but the IAAF appealed, saying that the timing of the bans was ''selective.''

In Kirdyapkin's case, RUSADA had allowed him a window of four months in 2012 which meant he kept an Olympic gold medal which he would otherwise have lost.

CAS, however, ruled that all of Kirdkyapkin's results from August 20, 2009, to Oct. 15, 2012, were now disqualified. That covers the London Olympics, which took place in July-August 2012.

Another Russian affected by the CAS ruling is Olga Kaniskina, who stands to lose her silver medal in the 20K walk from the London Olympics. China's Qieyang Shenjie would move up to silver.

Russia is also set to lose two gold medals from the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea - Yulia Zaripova in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and Sergei Bakulin in the 50K walk. Zaripova's gold would go to Tunisia's Habiba Ghribi; Bakulin's medal to fellow Russian Denis Nizhegorodov.

CAS also imposed disqualifications on walkers Valery Borchin and Vladimir Kanaikin.

Reallocating medals is up to track and field's world governing body, the IAAF, which said it ''will immediately proceed to the effective disqualification of results'' from its competitions and ask the IOC to reallocate Olympic medals.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the CAS ruling was ''an issue from last year already, a closed issue'' in comments to R-Sport.

The acting head of RUSADA, Anna Antseliovich, told the AP that she stood by her agency's original decision to allow the six athletes to keep certain results, but that she would respect the CAS verdict.

''We presented our experts' opinions at CAS. We believe the decision had been imposed properly, but the CAS arbiters found that the IAAF position was stronger and more convincing,'' she said. ''We'll take it into account when RUSADA takes decisions, but each case is individual.''

RUSADA was suspended from conducting any testing in November 2015 after a World Anti-Doping Agency commission accused it of covering up doping among leading Russian athletes.

Of the six athletes in the case, four have since become eligible to compete again, and some say they want to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August, including Kirdyapkin.

However, Russia remains suspended from all international track and field, including the Olympics, after the WADA commission's report detailed state-sponsored, systematic drug use. Unless that suspension is lifted before Rio, the entire Russian team faces a humiliating ban from the biggest stage in track.

Eight Russians who originally won medals in track and field at the 2012 Olympics have since either been banned for doping or are under investigation.

''The Russian athletes are definitely getting what they deserved,'' Tallent said, adding that ''it'll be a dark day for the sport'' if Kirdyapkin is allowed to race in Rio.

''Once you're a cheat and you're caught, you should never be allowed to compete again. You should be banned for life,'' Tallent said. ''I hope that Russia is still excluded.''