Russia bans 5 athletes in new doping cases

MOSCOW (AP) The Russian athletics federation suspended five athletes Thursday, including a top marathon runner and an Olympic hammer throw finalist, just days before the publication of a major report into Russian doping.

Marathon runner Maria Konovalova received a two-year ban and was stripped of results going back to 2009. She finished second at the Chicago Marathon in 2010 and third in 2013.

The Russian federation said she was suspended based on irregularities in her biological passport, which monitors an athlete’s blood profile for evidence of doping.

Konovalova’s ban casts a further shadow over the Chicago Marathon, where the winners of five of the last seven women’s races have been banned in doping cases.

Russian Liliya Shobukhova won the 2009, 2010 and 2011 events before she was banned in a separate doping case. Konovalova had originally crossed the line third in 2010 but was promoted to second when Shobukhova was excluded. The 2013 and 2014 winner, Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, has also been suspended for doping.

Also Thursday, the Russian athletics federation said that hammer thrower Maria Bespalova, who finished 11th at the 2012 London Olympics, was banned for four years after testing positive for a steroid.

Also banned were three lesser known Russian athletes: race-walker Evgeny Nushtaev and runners Vlas Bredikhin and Yaroslav Khlopov.

Nushtaev’s suspension is the latest in a long line of scandals for Russian race-walking, which has faced more than 25 doping cases in recent years and saw three Olympic gold medalists banned in January.

On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency is scheduled to publish a report on its investigation into allegations of systematic doping in Russian athletics.