Investigations are being carried out by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) following claims disgraced Olympic race walking champion Elena Lashmanova competed in an event in Russia despite the fact she is currently serving a two-year doping ban.
In what represents another scandal for Russian athletics, the 22-year-old gold medal winner at London 2012 may now not be able to defend her title in Rio next year as if she is found guilty, her ban could be extended for a further two years.
“The IAAF has been informed by multiple sources of the allegations that Elena Lashmanova competed in a Russian race in December,” a spokesperson told insidethegames.
“Our anti-doping department is investigating but Russia was celebrating the Orthodox Christmas last week and so has been effectively shut down just as the west was for our recent festivities.”
The claims emerged in Italian race walking periodical Marcia dal Mondo and pictures then surfaced throughout social media apparently depicting Lashmanova competing – seemingly a direct breach of her ban for taking prohibited hormones and modulators of metabolism which began in February 2014.
However, these were then dismissed in Russia as fake, which has prompted further investigations into an alleged cover-up of her participation in the event.
There is an element of doubt as to the validity of the pictures, with Saransk Center for Sports Training Dmitry Fedotov claiming the images were from two years ago.
Fedotov’s rebuttal however can apparently be quashed based on the fact the trainers Lashmanova is wearing in the photo were not made when the picture was allegedly taken.
“Elena Lashmanova did not participate in last winter’s Mordovia Cup Race Walking, which took place in December 2014,” he told Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.
“As for the photos, they were made in the competition in 2012.”
The Russian Athletics Federation (ARF) are also investigating the reports with Valentin Balakhnichev, saying the results will be released “in a few days”.
The news has caused widespread anger in the race walking community, and Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee has written a powerful blog calling on the IAAF and the ARF to ban controversial coach Viktor Chegin and to stop what he calls “the lies, manipulation and cover-ups” in Russian athletics.
Chegin was removed as coach of the Russian track and field team for last year’s European Championships but was allowed to continue to coach athletes, despite continued doping suspicions around his team after Lashmanova was found guilty.
The development comes after Viktor Kolesnikov, Director of Russia’s Centre for Race Walking in Saransk, was banned for four years in November following systematic doping after a surfeit of failed drugs tests by athletes under his charge.
Lashmanova’s case provides another example of the consistent and prolonged doping that appears in Russian sport, with biathletes Ekaterina Iourieva and Irina Starykh potentially facing extended bans after their samples were re-analyzed.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, insidethegames.