At this rate, there might not be any Russian athletes left to run, jump or throw by the time the Olympic track and field programme gets under way in the Bird's Nest Stadium next Friday. Another two were added to a lengthening list of shame yesterday, making a total of 12 suspended for doping offences within the space of eight days.
Javelin thrower Lada Chernova, who gave what proved to be a positive test at the Russian Cup meeting in Tula last month, was not a selected member of the Russian Olympic squad. Roman Usov, however, was. He was due to compete in the 3,000m steeplechase until it was revealed that his "A" sample at the national championships in Kazan last month contained traces of carfedon. And so the drip-drip of Russian doping offences continues. Arne Ljungkvist, head of the International Olympic Committee's medical commission, suggested earlier this week that the cases were a result of "systematic, planned doping".
They first came to light on Thursday last week when seven female Russian athletes were suspended under suspicion of tampering with urine samples. Their number included Olga Yegorova, whose appearance at the World Championships in Edmonton in 2001 prompted Paula Radcliffe to register her protest by holding a banner proclaiming "EPO cheats out".
Yelena Soboleva, who broke the world indoor 1500m record in March, was another banned. Two of the three Russian race walkers banned earlier this week had been due to compete here, as had Vladimir Gusev, a racing cyclist suspended for a test showing "abnormal" blood values.