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RUSADA Bans Six Russian Athletes

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has announced former European steeplechase medalist Lyubov Kharlamova is among five athletes and one weightlifter to have been handed drugs bans.

The RUSADA website lists details about all six cases. These decisions came six weeks after the anti-doping agency was allowed to resume drugs testing by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) under the supervision of international experts and UK Anti-Doping (UKAD).

The 36-year-old Kharlamova served a ban of two years after finishing fourth at the 2006 European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg. The former European steeplechase medalist then went on to win silver at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona. Kharlamova is now suspended for two additional years and will therefore not be eligible to return until June 15 in 2019. All of the results of Kharlamova from July 27 in 2010 will now be disqualified, meaning she will be stripped of her European silver from Barcelona.

The RUSADA list also includes Irina Sergeyeva, a distance runner who won a silver medal at the 2009 European Cross-Country Championships. Irina has never been implicated in a doping case before; she will be ruled out for two-and-a-half years.

Ekaterina Doseykina, a steeplechaser, is among the other three track and field athletes sanctioned. Ekaterina, who participated at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, already received a suspension for violating whereabouts rules but is now ineligible for four years. The steeplechaser has also been stripped of all results achieved from August 5 in 2015 to November 21 in 2016. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency also announced a backdated ban of one year on Race walker Zilya Garipova to October 2016. RUSADA also announced a suspension of four years from April 2017 for hurdler Ivan Khudyakov. A ban of eight years was imposed on weightlifter Anastasiya Vorobyova commencing on July 25.

In a statement, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency said the decisions were made by the Russian Athletics Federation following materials provided by RUSADA Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee.

In another development, the chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athlete Committee has remarked that imposing fines on Russia rather than restricting their participation at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang next year would be a "superficial gesture" rather than a genuine punishment. However, Russia may escape a blanket ban as media reports have suggested that the International Olympic Committee Russia have "already agreed the terms of the sanctions" and there is a huge possibility that the IOC would issue a large fine rather than any sort of suspension from Pyeongchang 2018.

Olympic gold medalist Beckie Scott claimed imposing a fine on Russia would not be enough. The Canadian, winner of an Olympic gold medal in cross-country skiing at Salt Lake City 2002, remarked he thinks there is a large percentage of athletes who still feel that, for such a massive scale of corruption and defrauding of the Olympic Games, there was no real consequence of substance. Scott added Russia still competed in Rio, they competed under their own flag, they brought home medals and this is not acceptable from the perspective of the Athletes' Commission.

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Albert Wolfgang
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