Fresh allegations of doping offences involving Russian athletes could now result in an Olympic bronze medal for Irish race walker Rob Heffernan. There could also be a retrospective World championship gold medal for fellow walker Olive Loughnane.
The IAAF have confirmed the provisional suspensions of three Russian Olympic champion race-walkers as part of their continuing investigation into doping in Russian athletics.
Among them are Sergei Kirdyapkin, who won gold in the men's 50km race at the 2012 London Olympics, where Heffernan finished fourth: should Kirdyapkin's ban be upheld there may well be a retrospective banning, which would automatically see Heffernan upgraded to the bronze medal position.
Also provisionally banned is Olga Kaniskina, who won the women's 20km gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and also the World Championships in Berlin in 2009: Loughnane won silver in that race, and again Kaniskina may well be stripped of those titles as a result of any long term ban, with Loughnane being upgraded to World Champion.
Last month Heffernan was upgraded to bronze from the 20km walk the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona, after the Russian gold medal winner there was banned retrospectively.
Two other Russian walkers, Sergei Bakulin and Vladimir Kanaykin, who won gold and silver medals at the 2011 world championship, have also been provisionally suspended.
All five cases relate to irregularities in the athletes' biological passports, which monitor blood values over time to look for evidence of doping. According to Chris Turner of the IAAF, the association "only publishes the names of those athletes whose cases have been concluded," but the organization did confirm that certain athletes were suspended.
Should be bans be upheld, it also means that 17 gold medals won by Russian walkers at the Olympics and world championships in the last decade, 16 were won by athletes who have been banned for doping at some stage of their careers or who are currently under investigation.