Russian state sports facility says contract with banned coach voided after Reuters report

Russian state sports facility says contract with banned coach voided after Reuters report
By Reuters
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By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian state contract between banned race walking coach Viktor Chegin and the athletics facility where he was formerly head coach has been cancelled after Reuters reported his firm provided security there, the facility said.

Reuters reported in June that Chegin, who was banned for life for doping in 2016, had won three state contracts worth a combined 8.5 million roubles ($130,000) to provide security to the training facility in the city of Saransk since his ban took effect.

Although Chegin's business activities are not prohibited under international anti-doping rules, they show how Russia, which says it has reformed its practices following a 2015 doping scandal, continued to back a top coach banned for doping.

Russian authorities later said they would cancel the contract because Chegin's access to the facility and the athletes training there was problematic for anti-doping authorities.

Vera Nacharkina, a former race walker who is the facility's director, told Reuters on Thursday that the contract had been cancelled this month and that Chegin's firm no longer provided security at the facility.

Chegin could not be reached for comment. He has not made any public comment since the Reuters story in June.

Nacharkina had said in June it was possible that Chegin visited the facility to oversee his firm's activities and that she was not aware of him associating with athletes there.

According to the rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), athletes must not receive training, strategy, nutritional or medical advice from banned coaches and medical staff and can face sanctions if they do.

Company records show that Chegin's firm, called Chest-S, changed owner in July and changed its name earlier this month.

A 2015 report commissioned by WADA found that there was a "systematic doping regime" under Chegin's influence at the training facility in Saransk.

The race walkers in Chegin's charge used blood transfusions, in violation of doping rules, and took banned substances, the report said. Chegin has not commented on the report.

Russia's athletics federation was suspended after the report found evidence of mass doping in athletics. The IAAF, the global governing body of athletics, will decide on the federation's status next month.

(Editing by Frances Kerry)

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