Russia bans five athletes over doping offences

The Russian Athletics Federation (VFLA) has confirmed that five athletes have been banned for doping offences.

Marathon runner Mariya Konovalova has been hit with a two-year suspension due to irregularities in her biological passport, which is used to monitor the blood profiles of athletes in order to detect evidence of doping.

Konovalova – a runner-up at the Chicago Marathon in 2010 – has had her results dating back to August 2009 declared void.

Meanwhile, hammer thrower Mariya Bespalova, a finalist in the 2012 London Olympics, has been banned for four years after testing positive for a banned steroid.

Runners Yaroslav Khlopov and Vlas Bredikhin have also suspended for four years, while race walker Evgeny Nushtaev is suspended for six months.

It adds another disturbing chapter to the catalogue of doping problems that have dogged Russian athletics in recent times.

In January, former world heptathlon champion Tatyana Chernova was banned for two years after testing positive for a banned steroid, while compatriot Yuliya Zaripova, the Olympic women’s 3,000m steeplechase champion from London 2012, was banned for two and a half years.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is currently investigating allegations of widespread doping in Russian athletics after a German television documentary aired the claims last year.

On Wednesday, it emerged that former IAAF president Lamine Diack is also believed to be under investigation by French authorities amid allegations of corruption and money laundering.

Diack, who has since been replaced by Seb Coe as the figurehead of the IAAF, is also being accused of covering up positive drugs tests from Russian athletes.