MOSCOW, May 4. /TASS/. All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) President Dmitry Shlyakhtin regrets the decision to revoke the authorized neutral athlete status of five Russian race walkers, made by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), as he himself told TASS.
Earlier on Friday, the IAAF revoked the authorized neutral athlete status of Klavdiya Afanasyeva, Olga Eliseeva, Yuliya Lipanova, Sergey Sharypov and Sergey Shirobokov. depriving them of the right to compete at the World Race Walking Team Championships set to be held in China’s Taicang on May 5-6. "The decision has been made pending further investigation into a number of serious issues arising from their participation at the training camp in Karakol in the Kyrgyz Republic last month, including the involvement in Karakol of the coach, Viktor Chegin, who has been banned from the sport for life. These five athletes are not eligible to compete at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships in Taicang, China, this weekend," the IAAF said in a statement.
"I am very sorry for the athletes as they waited for a long time to be granted the right to compete at the international level and worked hard to prepare for this tournament," Shlyakhtin said. "Who is to blame? I think they are partially guilty themselves as they had been warned many times that they had to cut off contacts with banned coaches to save themselves the trouble. However, coaches and those who organized the training session in Kyrgyzstan are also responsible," the ARAF president added.
Shlyakhtin did not rule out further developments concerning the five race walkers. "I don’t rule out that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) will have its say as it has been conducting its own investigation," he said.
In 1995-2015, Chegin was the chief race walking coach at the Olympic Training Center in Russia’s Mordovia region. A number of athletes he had trained were stripped of medals, including Olympic ones. In 2016, RUSADA issued a life ban to Chegin over numerous doping violations committed by his trainees.