Russian Olympic Race Walkers Banned for Doping

Jeopardizes athletes' plans to compete in 2016 Olympics

Jan 15, 2015
Outside Magazine
elena lashmanova olympics doping russia

Elena Lashmanova, the reigning women's race-walking champion, is being investigated for violating an existing doping ban that was set to expire in time for the Olympics.    Paul Barber/Flickr

Five Russian race walkers, three of whom are Olympic gold medalists, were banned Tuesday by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency.

Olympic champion Sergei Kirdyapkin and Olga Kaniskina, as well as 2011 world champion Sergei Bakulin, have been banned from competing professionally for 38 months. Valery Borchin, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, received an eight-year ban in October 2012 for a second offense, and Vladimir Kanaykin received a lifetime ban for repeated offenses. An investigation followed their cases back to late 2012, reported ABC News. Despite the ban, Kirdyapkin remains eligible to participate in the 2016 Olympics.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and World Anti-Doping Agency recently launched a probe into routine doping and cover-ups in Russia’s state-sponsored race-walking program after accusations emerged in a German documentary. Doping allegations continue to blight Russia’s race-walking program—17 of its athletes have been banned for doping in the past few years—even as athletes from the program have dominated the world championships and Olympics.

The new findings may alter results of the 2009 and 2011 world championships, including Kaniskina’s 20K wins in those contests, Borchin’s 20K win in 2009 and 2011, and Kirdyapkin’s 50K win in 2009. Several medals may be re-awarded to other Olympic competitors, including Kanaykin’s silver medal for the 20K in 2011.

The IAAF is investigating Bakulin and Kirdyapkin for further violations after photos appeared online showing them illegally competing at a Russian meet in December. They could be banned from the next Olympics.

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said in a statement that the Russian Athletes Federation had allowed a situation to develop that “goes against our state anti-doping policy, which we have done very much to propagate,” reported ABC News. He then asked that the federation consider “staffing and structural changes in the national team.”

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