Tallent campaign sparks dope probe into Russian walking team

AN ONLINE campaign led by Ballarat Olympian Jared Tallent has led to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency beginning an investigation into the country’s dominant walking team after the banning of several athletes.

RUSADA said on Friday it had opened “a preliminary investigation into possible breaches of anti-doping rules in relation to athletes’ staff” because of “multiple disqualifications of athletes”.

RUSADA requested biological passport data on athletes from the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body. 

The move follows a Tallent-led campaign late last month on social media against Russian coach Viktor Chegin, who the Australian says has overseen 17 of his athletes banned for doping, including one marathon runner.

The latest was reigning Olympic 20km champion and world record-holder Elena Lashmanova, who was suspended for two years last month after testing positive for banned substance GW1516.

Following Lashmanova’s ban, Tallent questioned the IAAF’s integrity for allowing Chegin to continue coaching.

Tallent, a three-time Olympic medallist, told The Courier at the time that it was usually Chegin-coached Russians that beat him in international events.

The 29-year-old said he was always happy with his performance and, as an athlete, always wondering what he could to better to win – but he said most Chegin athletes were barely pushing themselves by the finish.

This is not the first time Tallent has spoken out against Chegin’s athletics program.

At last year’s IAAF world championships, all four Russians who had beaten Tallent the two years previously in the men’s 50-kilometre walk were missing from the start list in their home country where race walking is a popular sport. Tallent said he could not help but be suspicious.

Among prominent Russian walkers to have been banned was men’s 20km world record-holder Vladimir Kanaykin, who was one of five Russian walkers to receive two-year bans for failing drug tests shortly before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has since returned to competition.

Another of those five, Sergei Morozov, was banned for life in 2012 for a second doping violation, but was allegedly pictured serving on the Russian team’s staff at the World Race-Walking Cup in May.

Last month, IAAF vice president Sergei Bubka said on Twitter that it was “looking into” claims of malpractice in the Russian team following Tallent’s campaign, and that the IAAF race-walking committee “raised strong concern”.

AP-AAP

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