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Russia’s titled race walker Lashmanova may miss 2016 Olympics in Brazil — sports minister

January 20, 2015, 20:41 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Lashmanova, the 2012 London Olympics gold medalist in women’s 20 km walk and 2013 World Champion, was handed a two-year suspension on January 4, 2014
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Elena Lashmanova

Elena Lashmanova

© ITAR-TASS/Valery Sharifulin/Archive

MOSCOW, January 20. /TASS/. Russia’s Olympic and World Champion race walker Elena Lashmanova was disqualified due to unprofessionalism of local sports officials and her coaching staff and will likely miss the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Tuesday.

Lashmanova, the 2012 London Olympics gold medalist in women’s 20 km walk and 2013 World Champion, was handed a two-year suspension after her blood test on January 4, 2014 proved positive for taking substances prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Valentin Balakhnichev, the president of the Russian Athletics Federation, earlier said that Lashmanova competed in the regional winter tournament in Russia’s republic of Mordovia on December 30, 2014, thus violating the terms of her suspension. Lashmanova in turn sent a letter to the federation denying her participation in the tournament.

“It is very difficult for me to comment on this incident,” Mutko said. “I simply do not understand how such things are allowed to happen. Lashmanova had an endless trust in everyone, including (sports) officials and her coaches, who allowed this to happen. There are no words to describe it.”

“I think that because of such so-called advisers, Lena Lashmanova will now lose a chance to compete at the next Olympic Games,” Mutko said. “Every athlete under suspension needs realizing what would be the price for competing in tournaments.”

Pictures of Lashmanova competing late last month in the winter tournament in Mordovia appeared shortly after the competition on Facebook and immediately drew attention of journalists.

“It is difficult to conceal such violation in the age of Internet,” the Russian sports minister said. “We will be taking measures in regard to everyone involved in this scandal.”

The doping suspension of the 22-year-old Russian race walker was due to expire on February 25, 2016, however, it may be extended if proved that she violated the terms of her suspension by taking part in the tournament in Mordovia. In that case, she would miss the opportunity to defend her Olympic champion’s title at the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.

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