Seven Russian athletes suspended for test tampering

Seven Russian athletes, including 1500m indoor world record holder Yelena Soboleva, were suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federation after the discovery of DNA convergence in their drug test samples.


MOSCOW, July 31 (Reuters) - The International Association of
Athletics Federations (IAAF) has banned seven leading Russian
women after charging them with manipulating drug samples, a
senior official said on Thursday.

"They are definitely suspended and will miss the Beijing
Olympics," Russian Athletics Federation (RAF) president Valentin
Balakhnichyov told Reuters.

The seven are: twice world 1,500 metres champion Tatyana
Tomashova, world indoor 1,500 metres champion Yelena Soboleva,
distance runners Yuliya Fomenko and Svetlana Cherkasova,
European discus champion Darya Pishchalnikova, former hammer
world record holder Gulfia Khanafeyeva and former world 5,000
metres champion Olga Yegorova.

"The athletes have been charged under IAAF Rules 32.2 (b)
and 32.2 (e) for a fraudulent substitution of urine which is
both a prohibited method and also a form of tampering with the
doping control process," the sport's world governing body said
on its website (

"We were notified by the IAAF their drug samples taken in
out-of-competition tests in May 2007 and then at last year's
world championships in Osaka do not match," said Balakhnichyov.

"Unfortunately we don't have much choice but to suspend

All bar Cherkasova had already qualified for the Olympics,
which begin on Aug. 8, and were leading contenders for medals.

Soboleva, 25, has been on fire this season, posting the
world's best times in the 1,500 and 800.


She smashed her own indoor 1,500 world record to win gold at
the world indoor championships in Valencia in March, with
Fomenko finishing second.

Tomashova, 33, has dominated the 1,500 in recent years,
winning back-to-back world titles in Paris in 2003 and Helsinki
two years later. She also finished second at the 2004 Athens

Yegorova, 36, tested positive for the banned blood-boosting
substance EPO prior to the 2001 world championships in Edmonton
but was allowed to compete after her suspension was lifted
because of an incomplete testing procedure.

She went on to win the 5,000 there and also finished second
behind Tomashova in the 1,500 at the 2005 world championships in

After winning the European discus title in Gothenburg in
2006, the 23-year-old Pishchalnikova took silver with a personal
best of 65.78 metres at last year's world championships behind
Germany's Franka Dietzsch.

Khanafeyeva, 26, briefly held the hammer world record with a
throw of 77.26 metres in 2006. She was suspected of failing a
drugs test at the 2007 World Military Games in Hyderabad, India
before being cleared by the organisers.

Balakhnichyov said the suspensions had dealt a major blow to
the Russian team.

"It's a huge, devastating blow just a week before the
Olympics. I don't know how we will recover from it," he said.

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