Russian walker Yargunkin out of World Championships after failing drugs test

Russian anti-doping agency says 33-year-old has tested positive for Erythropoietin

Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF

Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF

 

Russian race walker Alexander Yargunkin will not compete in Saturday’s 50km at the World Championships following reports that he has failed a drugs test, a Russian anti-doping agency (Rusada) official said on Friday.

The 33-year-old Yargunkin has given a positive test for the banned substance Erythropoietin, Russian media reported.

“Yargunkin definitely won’t compete at the World Championships in Beijing. The sportsman has been temporarily suspended from competition while an investigation takes place,” Nikita Kamaev, the executive director of Rusada, told the R-Sport news agency.

This will be the first world championships in which no Russian walkers will take part.

“This news really was a shock for me,” Yargunkin told the Sport-Express newspaper.

“I received a phone call saying they had found EPO. Of course I did not take Erythropoietin. I was the only Russian walker who could have gone to Beijing. I was tested all the time. For all the years I have trained, there has never been a problem,” Yargunkin added.

Rusada announced in January that three Olympic walking champions, Olga Kaniskina, Valery Borchin, Sergei Kirdyapkin, as well as the 2011 world champion Sergei Bakulin and 2011 world silver medallist Vladimir Kanaykin had been suspended for doping infringements. All these athletes were trained by Russian coach Viktor Chegin.

The Russian Athletics Federation suspended Chegin in July and said they would not be sending walkers to international events.

Defending champion Rob Heffernan leads a three-strong Irish contingent in the event, which starts at 12.30am on Saturday morning Irish time, along with Brendan Boyce and Alex Wright, who has already competed the 20km event in Beijing.

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