Athletics-Russia's Pishchalnikova faces life ban for doping

MOSCOW Thu Nov 8, 2012 5:31am EST

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MOSCOW Nov 8 (Reuters) - World discus champion Darya Pishchalnikova could face a life ban from the sport if she is found guilty of taking a prohibitive substance, the head of Russia's anti-doping agency said on Thursday.

Nikita Kamayev, the executive director of Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA), said the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was conducting an investigation after one of Pishchalnikova's samples tested positive for an anabolic steroid.

"WADA had asked RUSADA to take a sample from Pishchalnikova. The test had found the presence of a heavy substance (anabolic steroid)," Kamayev was quoted as saying by local media.

"The test came out positive - it's a fact and now we must wait for the official statement."

Pishchalnikova, who won the 2011 world title in the women's discus in Daegu, South Korea, and finished second at the London Olympics, had already served a doping ban of two years and nine months from July 2008 to April 2011.

The 27-year-old was among seven leading female Russian athletes found guilty of manipulating drug samples before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

She also won silver at the 2009 world championships in Osaka, Japan, but was stripped of the medal after the sport's governing body the IAAF annulled all her results from May 2007.

"In practice, an athlete who commits a second offence involving (anabolic steroid) could face from eight years to a life ban," said Kamayev.

"As for the Olympic silver medal it depends when her suspension would start if she was found guilty this time."

Russian athletics federation president (VFLA) Valentin Balakhnichev said he was shocked by the news.

"Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. We have seen quite enough such cases in Russian sports," he told reporters.

"Still, this is shocking news to me."

The VFLA banned former European 10,000 metres champion Inga Abitova on Wednesday for an "abnormal haemoglobin profile in her biological passport". (Reporting By Gennady Fyodorov, editing by Ed Osmond)

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