Six Russian athletes suspended for drug abuse

August 1st, 2008 - 3:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Aug 1 (Xinhua) The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has suspended six Russian women from the Beijing Olympic Games after they were suspected of drug usage, a senior official said. “All six are suspended and will miss the Beijing Olympics,” said Russia’s athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichev.

The suspended six are twice world 1,500m champion Tatiana Tomashova, world indoor 1,500m champion Yelena Soboleva, distance runners Yulia Fomenko and Svetlana Cherkasova, European discus champion Daria Pishchalnikova and former hammer world record holder Gulfia Khanafeyeva.

The six were suspended after discovering DNA convergence in their samples given for dope testing last year.

“We received a letter from IAAF, which said that six of our athletes were temporarily suspended,” Balakhnichev said.

“The reason for the suspension was the convergence of DNA in the samples that were given by the athletes for dope testing last year,” he added.

Balakhnichev said that five of the suspended were included in Russia’s Beijing-bound Olympic squad and were medal favourites at the Games.

Soboleva had the season’s best in 800m and 1,500m, Pishchalnikova was leading the discus throw this season, Khanafeyeva produced this season’s fifth best result in hammer throw, while Tomashova and Fomenko had the season’s second and seventh 1500m results.

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