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Russia’s suspended cyclist Brezhniva likely to wrap up sports career — coach

February 04, 19:13 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency earlier announced that Yelena Brezhniva was found guilty of violating anti-doping regulations and her four-year suspension term comes into force as of June 22, 2015
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MOSCOW, February 4. /TASS/. Russian bicycle racer Yelena Brezhniva, who earlier in the day received a four-year suspension for doping abuse, is most likely to wrap up with her sports career, Sergey Kovpanets, the head coach of the Russian national track cycle team, told TASS on Thursday.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) announced earlier in the day that Brezhniva was found guilty of violating anti-doping regulations and her four-year suspension term comes into force as of June 22, 2015.

"Lena explained that it was her own fault and agreed with the verdict," Kovpanets said in an interview with TASS. "I believe that she will wrap up with her sports career and start a new one, but the one not connected with sports."

"This case, however, should serve as a lesson for the rest, who must understand that the punishment for wrongdoings is always inevitable," he said. "It is very difficult to sympathize with her under the current circumstances considering the fact that she had agreed with the decision. It means that she feels her guilt."

Kovpanets stressed that Brezhniva passed the doping test during the off-season period and that is why she is to blame herself in the first place.

"This is simply some sort of a criminal do-it-yourself approach," he said.

"In the current times, when punishments were tightened for doping abuse, one should treat everything with great care," Kovpanets said. "The responsibility should also rest with all those being around an athlete - coaches, massage therapists, doctors."

"Each athlete must be extremely careful about what he or she consumes, and it goes to food as well," Kovpanets added.

Brezhniva has been part of the country’s national team since 2008 and is the two-time European champion in team sprint, winning the titles in 2013 and 2014.

A source in the Russian Cycling Federation (RCF) said in an interview with TASS that the banned substance could have been discovered in blood sample of Brezhniva due to her negligence in taking prescribed medicine.

"There is nothing new in the situation with Brezhniva and the story is silly," a source in the RCF told TASS on conditions of anonymity.

"According to her, the medicine at the issue was prescribed by a doctor to relief some sort of a female-related disorder," the source said. "She, however, treated this situation with a Russian traditional ‘leave-it-to-chance’ approach," and overlooked the possible consequences.

"Our athletes never seem to learn how to think one step ahead," the source said. "But for the Russian national [cycling] team this is a huge blow with only half a year before the [2016 Summer] Olympics."

Russian weighlifters suspended due to doping violations

Earlier in the day, Russian weightlifters Ilya Atnabayev and Denis Kekhter have been both handed four-year suspensions due to violations of anti-doping regulations.

While Atnabayev was tested positive for banned substances, Kekhter, who is the 2014 European youth champion in under-94 kg weight category, was suspended after he did not show up for the required doping test last year.

Alexander Petrov, the vice president of the Russian Weightlifting Federation (RWF), confirmed to TASS that Kekhter was suspended for skipping the mandatory doping test, although the athlete was notified beforehand of the time and venue for the test.

"It happened last May," Petrov said. "He was not present during the doping test and the International Weightlifting Federation resorted to relevant sanctions. He was punished for skipping the test although he knew where and when he had to pass it."

Both Russia’s promising weightlifters, as well as titled cyclist Brezhniva, will not be part of the Russian national Olympic team this summer.

At the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, the Russian national team finished in the fourth place with 24 gold, 26 silver and 32 bronze medals. The 2016 Summer Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro are scheduled for August 5-21.

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