July 16, 2015 / 4:08 PM / 4 years ago

Russian walkers unlikely to compete at worlds, official says

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian race walkers are unlikely to take part in next month’s world athletics championships in Beijing, acting president of the Russian Athletics Federation (VFLA) Vadim Zelichenok said on Thursday.

The walkers are almost certain to miss the Aug. 22-30 event due to an anti-doping investigation into Russian coach Viktor Chegin, who could not be immediately reached for comment.

“I am 99 percent sure the walkers will not be competing,” Zelichenok told Russia’s R-Sport news agency.

“Why not 100 percent? There is a tiny chance that we will be able to wrap this up quickly. However, at the moment we have suspicions that this sport could cause us embarrassment at the world championships.”

It was announced earlier on Thursday that Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA) had opened an investigation into Chegin.

“The Russian Athletics Federation has suspended the walking coach Viktor Chegin from his job,” a statement on the VLFA’s website said (www.rusathletics.com).

“Aside from this, following information received from RUSADA, the Russian Athletics Federation has decided not to send Russian walkers to compete in official international events until the investigation has been completed, which RUSADA is undertaking,” the statement added.

RUSADA announced in January that three Olympic walk champions, Olga Kaniskina, Valery Borchin, Sergei Kirdyapkin, had all been suspended for doping infringements, as well as 2011 world champion Sergei Bakulin and silver medallist Vladimir Kanaykin.

All five athletes were trained under Chegin’s watch.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said in February that disciplinary proceedings had been opened against Chegin and they were “confident” that he would be sanctioned.

Reporting By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy; editing by Ossian Shine and Toby Davis

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