The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) is set to investigate claims by Australian Olympic medallist Jared Tallent that a host of Russian race walkers have been doping under the supervision of coach Viktor Chegin.
Last month, Tallent used social media to raise concerns over Chegin, who he claims has had 17 of his athletes banned for doping and called on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to ban the coach.
The double Olympic silver medallist spoke out after reigning women's Olympic 20 kilometre champion Elena Lashmanova was handed a two-year ban for taking banned substance GW1516 in January.
Lashmanova, who is also the reigning world champion and world record holder, was the latest in a long line of Russian walkers to fail a drugs test.
Sergei Morozov was banned for life in 2012 following a second doping violation but is alleged to have been part of the Russian team's staff at this year's World Race-Walking Cup in Taicang, China.
Morozov was among five Russians to be banned in 2008 prior to the Beijing Olympics after testing positive for Erythropoietin (EPO) including former World Championship silver medallist and men's 20km world record holder Vladimir Kanaykin, who has since returned to competition.
RUSADA said it has opened "a preliminary investigation into possible breaches of anti-doping rules in relation to athletes' staff" because of "multiple disqualifications of athletes".
It has also requested biological passport data on the athletes in question from the IAAF.
Responding to Tallent's concerns last month, IAAF vice-president Sergey Bubka said they were "looking into" the Russian team and Chegin and he would raise the issue when the IAAF Council meets in Oregon in the United States during the World Junior Championships, which run from July 22 to 27.
Under the new World Anti-Doping Agency Code, due to come into effect on January 1 next year, more stringent sanctions will be imposed for doping violations, including a doubling of bans for athletes who fail tests for the first time from two to four years and greater sanctions for accomplices such as coaches and team mates.
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