Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Russian athletics federation (VFLA) has suspended Viktor Chegin as its race-walking coach, and will not send race-walkers to any international competitions until the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) completes its investigation into him. However, it appears that the VFLA will only keep to its promise if RUSADA’s investigation is concluded quickly. Yesterday, the VFLA indicated that it is keen to send race-walkers to the IAAF World Championships, 22-30 August.
RUSADA charged Chegin with a number of breaches of the World Anti-Doping Code last week. The VFLA initially suspended Chegin from working with its race-walkers ahead of the 2014 European Athletics Championships, however he was spotted in Zurich during the Championships, and has worked with Russian athletes since then.
‘Based on the information from RUSADA, the Russian athletics federation decided to dismiss Victor Chegin from working with the Russian team’, read a 16 July VFLA statement. ‘The VFLA also takes note that RUSADA has petitioned the Ministry of Sports of the Republic of Mordovia to dismiss Viktor Chegin from working at the Centre for the period of the investigation, and urges athletes at the Centre and any other athletes to refrain from training under the direction of Chegin in order to avoid possible sanctions’.
Yesterday, it appeared as if the VFLA had changed its mind. “We are discussing the possibility of allowing Russian race-walkers to compete in the IAAF World Championships”, Secretary General of the VFLA, Mikhail Butov, told Sports.ru. “With regard to the investigation of Viktor Chegin, it is assumed that some results will appear before the World Championships in Beijing”.
Chegin is head coach at a Mordovian race-walking centre named after him. The Centre is still used as an Olympic training centre, and Chegin is still listed as Head Coach on its internet site. Chegin is also under investigation by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). In a conference call earlier this year, anti-doping manager Thomas Capdevielle said that the IAAF would wait to see what action would be taken by Russia before deciding to act.
In May, the VFLA issued a four-year ban to race-walker Tatyana Akulinushkina, which followed the disqualification of two race-walkers in March, and five in January. RUSADA issued bans of three years and two months to Olga Kaniskina, Sergey Kirdyapkin and Sergey Bakulin, whilst 2008 Olympic gold medalist Valeriy Borchin was issued with an eight-year ban, and Vladimir Kanaykin was banned for life for second offences. Andrei Ruzavin, who won a bronze medal at the 2014 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Race Walking World Cup, was issued with a 30-month ban, from 9 October 2014 until 8 April 2017; while Nina Okhotnikova was issued with a two-year ban from 22 January 2015 until 21 January 2017. All were coached by Chegin at some stage in their career.
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