Russian athletes fail to water down strong penalties

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The seven Russian track and field athletes suspended on the eve of the Beijing Olympics last summer, charged with "urine substitution", have lost their appeal for reinstatement in time to compete at the world championships in Berlin next month.

The septet – among them former world 5,000 metres champion Olga Yegorova and Yelena Soboleva, who broke the world indoor 1500m record last year – had hoped their two-year bans would be reduced to nine or 10 months. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled yesterday that the penalty should be increased from two years to two years and nine months.

The International Association of Athletics Federations had pressed for four-year bans, but a statement on behalf of the world governing body said the extended sanction "should provide a strong warning to athletes who are considering doping".

For British athletes who might have faced any of the seven in Berlin, the ruling has taken the pith out of a potentially distasteful situation.

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