Russian track and field faces wave of disciplinary cases

Sports
Andrei Silnov

FILE – In this Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017 file photo, Russian track federation vice president Andrei Silnov speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia. The Russian track federation said Wednesday June 12, 2019, that senior vice president Andrei Silnov, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the high jump, is facing suspension in a doping case, another blow to the country’s hopes of being reinstated in time for the world championships. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s second most powerful track official stepped down Friday amid a doping case, while seven other athletes are accused of training in secret with a banned coach.

The cases come as Russia tries to have its ban from international track competitions, in place since 2015, lifted in time for the world championships in September and October.

Andrei Silnov, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the high jump, left his post as senior vice-president of the Russian track and field federation and will no longer sit on its board.

Silnov is under investigation by the Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles international doping cases in track and field.

Neither he nor the AIU has revealed the nature of the allegation against him.

Russian Anti-Doping Agency deputy CEO Margarita Pakhnotskaya told The Associated Press that her agency found seven Russians — including athletes from the national team — training in Kyrgyzstan between November and April with coach Vladimir Kazarin, a former star coach who was handed a lifetime doping ban in 2017.

They include the runner Artyom Denmukhametov, who raced for Russia at the 2015 world championships. He’s been provisionally suspended.

Some of the athletes’ stays in Kyrgyzstan were paid with national team funds, Pakhnotskaya said. The agency is looking into who knew the athletes were with Kazarin.

Pakhnotskaya didn’t announce the names of the others. Of the seven athletes, three are likely to escape with warnings for a first offense, but four face bans for a second offense of “prohibited association” with a banned coach.

The Russian agency said it targeted one unnamed female athlete for drug-testing and she has already been banned for four years.

Kazarin previously worked with Mariya Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova, who finished first and third in the 800 meters at the 2012 Olympics but were both later banned for doping. In 2017, the Court of Arbitration for Sports found Kazarin possessed, trafficked and administered banned substances.

Despite Russia officially being banned from international events for widespread doping, dozens from the country are allowed to compete as neutral athletes. None of the seven in Friday’s case had that status, Pakhnotskaya said.

It’s not the first time Russian athletes have gone to Kyrgyzstan for illicit training camps. Last year, five Russians were stripped of their ability to compete internationally as neutrals after being found working with a banned race-walk coach there.

The IAAF extended the Russian team’s ban from international competitions Sunday when the IAAF expressed concern about “apparent backsliding” on doping reforms.

Besides the issue of banned coaches continuing to work, the AIU is also investigating whether Russian officials filed fake medical documents to give a top athlete an alibi for failing to inform drug testers of his whereabouts.

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