Russia leap from scandal to top of European medal table

Sun Mar 8, 2015 1:57pm EDT
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PRAGUE (Reuters) - Russian athletics, in the dock after recent allegations about widespread doping among their elite performers, was back on top of the medal table at the European Indoor Championships on Sunday.

In the first major international athletics event since the scandal emerged last year, Russia finished the three-day championships at the O2 Arena in Prague with six golds -- twice as many as any other country -- and two silvers.

France were the next best with three golds.

Russians topped the podium three times on Sunday, with Daniyil Tsyplakov winning the high jump with a 2.31m leap, Ilya Shkurenyov taking the heptathlon title with 6,353 points and Yekaterina Koneva leaping 14.69m in the triple jump.

World indoor champion Koneva, who started out as a sprint and long jump specialist, came back from a two-year doping ban in 2009, having failed an in-competition doping test in 2007.

It was alleged in a German television documentary that Russia had been funding a comprehensive state-backed doping program for athletes that had been covered up at national and international level.

Last month, the International Association of Athletics Federations said Russian athletes involved in the scandal would face disciplinary proceedings. IAAF President Lamine Diack called it "a difficult crisis".

Among the highlights of the final day in Prague was Richard Kilty's triumph in the 60m. The British sprinter, whose victory in the world indoor championships last year was considered a major shock, felt he had proved a point as he comfortably despatched his opposition to win in 6.51sec.

"A few people have called me a one-hit wonder and counted me out yet again," said Kilty.   Continued...

Ilya Shkurenyov of Russia celebrates winning the men's hepthatlon event during the European Indoor Championships in Prague March 8, 2015. REUTERS/David W Cerny