August 5, 2008 / 2:06 PM / 11 years ago

Three Russian walkers fail drugs tests

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Olympic race walker Vladimir Kanaikin has been suspended after failing a dope test, the country’s athletics chief said on Tuesday.

Kanaikin, 23, was one of the favorites for the gold in the 20km in Beijing after smashing the world record at last year’s Grand Prix final in his home town of Saransk, shaving five seconds off the mark.

Two other leading Russian walkers, Viktor Burayev and Alexei Voevodin, who won the 50km bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics, also tested positive but did not make the team for Beijing.

“(The three) have been suspended as we await the confirmation of their test results,” Valentin Balakhnichyov, president of the Russian Athletics Federation, told Reuters.

Earlier, Russian race walking coach Viktor Chegin said all three had tested positive for the banned drug EPO in out-of-competition tests in April.

“The tests were taken in an out-of-competition here at home in Saransk on April 20,” Chegin told the All Sport news agency.

“It showed traces of EPO in the blood of my athletes,” he said.

Eleven Russian athletes have now been suspended after doping suspicions, with seven being thrown out of the Beijing team in the past week.

Seven track and field athletes, five of whom were heading for Beijing, were banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations on Thursday for manipulating their drug samples.

It was announced earlier on Tuesday that cyclist Vladimir Gusev would also not compete in Beijing after out-of-competition tests showed abnormal blood levels.

Balakhnichyov was optimistic the doping allegations would not affect the Russian team’s performance in Beijing.

“We’re trying to stay positive despite all this,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll be fine in Beijing and we’ll deal with all these doping allegations after the Olympics.”

(Editing by Jon Bramley and Ralph Gowling)

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