Russian athletes accused of working with banned coach
Athletes from Russia’s national track and field team are still working with a coach who was banned for life for doping, investigators said Saturday.
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency says its investigators tracked down Viktor Chegin, who ran a training center linked to more than 30 doping cases, to the remote town of Karakol in Kyrgyzstan and found him still working with top race-walkers.
Its statement didn’t name the athletes with Chegin, describing them only as “athletes from the Russian national walking team.” It added that “the fact of direct involvement by V. M. Chegin, who is banned for life, has been established.”
Under anti-doping rules, those athletes could face bans too for knowingly working with a banned coach.
Russia remains banned from international athletics for widespread doping, with top athletes allowed to compete only after convincing the IAAF they are clean. If they are found working with a banned coach, that situation could be reviewed.
A photograph published on an Instagram account in the name of Russian national-team walker Olga Shargina and dated April 19 seems to show several members of the team in Karakol, where Chegin was allegedly coaching.
Sergei Shirobokov, who won the world championship silver medal in the 20-kilometer race last year, appears to be among those shown. He has been licensed to compete internationally by the IAAF. The photograph, which does not show Chegin, could not immediately be authenticated by The Associated Press.
Chegin is the former coach of Sergei Kirdyapkin, Olga Kaniskina and Elena Lashmanova, all of whom won Olympic gold medals but later served suspensions for doping.
Chegin himself was banned in 2016 from working in sports in any capacity after the agency ruled he gave banned substances to his athletes.
RUSADA said on Saturday its new investigation was ongoing and it demanded an explanation from athletics officials.
Russia’s athletics federation said it was looking into what it termed Chegin’s “appearance ... at the location where a training camp was being held,” but didn’t say he had trained athletes. The alleged incident happened on April 20, it said.
The IAAF did not immediately comment on whether the incident could affect the Russians’ chances of competing at next week’s world team championships in China.