© Copyright – 2015 – Athletics Illustrated

In an embarrassing blow to Russian athletics “attempt” to clean up their sporting image, race-walker Tatyana Akulinushkina has received a four-year ban for doping, starting March 1st 2015; her second doping sanction. She is just 21-years-of-age. She tested positive for the banned diuretic furosemide, which is typically used to mask other doping agents.

This adds another nail in the coffin of the sport for Russia, as many other Russian race-walkers have been banned since the infamous airing of the documentary, How Russia Makes Champions, by German television station ARD.

In an op-ed piece from January 2015 I wrote the headline, “To the IAAF: Ban Russia Now,” in regards to their apparent systematic doping of an estimated 90-99% of their athletes, depending on who you quote. This was brought to light during the documentary, where two Russian athletes admitted to doping and one, marathon runner Lilia Shobukhova said she paid a $600,000 bribe to cover up a positive test, to Russian authorities, no less.

Since then, the Russians have cried foul a little, for example, former President of All-Russia Athletics Federation Valentin Balachinkov publicly asked WADA to play fair and test Russian athletes on par with other federations, for example 90 blood samples were taken of Russian athletes, while at the same time just nine were taken from British athletes.

So are we to assume in light of the scrutiny that Balachinkov feels that Russia should be exonerated?

That is an oddly delusional perspective considering Russian athletics is so dirty that even after Viktor Kolesnikov, the Director of the race-walking centre located in Saransk, was banned in 2014 for four years for possessing substances considered illegal under (Wada’s) anti-doping rules. They couldn’t find a clean coach. He was briefly replaced by Olympic champion Olga Kaniskina, who resigned shortly after as she became one of five walkers banned for doping.

Oh the infamy.

Twenty-six Russian walkers have been banned for doping. Twenty of those, including Akulinushkina, trained under national coach Viktor Chegin, who is now under investigation by the IAAF and according to them will be sanctioned.

Currently there are at least 70 Russian athletes serving suspensions for doping related infractions, this is far and away the most in the world and is offensive to the fair play credo of sport.

In that op-ed piece I wrote, “These [systematic doping] allegations have yet to be proven; however, the fallout is extensive and continuing.” Akulinushkina’s positive test is just another example of Russia’s apparent complete disregard for fair play. And in advance of suggesting that she may be doping on her own, this could be true, but where, I wonder would a 21-year-old get the notion to dope and mask her illegal performance enhancing drug taking when she has been surrounded by such throughout her entire athletics career?

Ban them now.