Russia's race walking programme is now in complete disarray following a ban imposed by the national anti-doping agency on five athletes, of whom three are past or present Olympic champions.
Sergei Kirdyapkin, 50 kilometres walk winner at the London 2012 Games, Olga Kaniskina, 20km gold medallist at the Beijing 2008 Games and silver medallist in London four years later, and Sergei Bakulin, the 2011 World 50km champion, have been banned for three years and two months in cases backdated to 2012.
Valery Borchin, the Olympic 2008 20km winner, has been banned for eight years and Vladimir Kanaykin, who set the current world record for the 20km walk of 1hr 17min 16sec in 2007, for life.
Kirdyapkin's ban will expire in time for him to be eligible to defend his title in Rio in 2016.
The bans do not affect any Olympic medals, although five International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship gold medals from 2009 and 2011 could be re-awarded.
This is the latest blow for the sport in Russia following the news in November that Viktor Kolesnikov, Director of Russia's Centre for Race Walking in Saransk, had been banned for four years following an investigation into systematic doping after a surfeit of failed drugs test by athletes under his charge.
At least 17 leading race walkers at the facility had served bans at that time, including the reigning Olympic and world 20km champion and world record holder, Elena Lashmanova, who was suspended for two years in July 2014 for taking banned substance GW1516.
Last week it was announced that the IAAF was carrying out an investigation following claims that Lashmanova had competed at the Mordovia Cup Race Walking event in Russia in December last year.
In what represents another scandal for Russian athletics, the 22-year-old may now not be able to defend her title in Rio next year as if she is found guilty her ban could be extended for a further two years.
"The IAAF has been informed by multiple sources of the allegations that Elena Lashmanova competed in a Russian race in December," a spokesperson told insidethegames.
There is an element of doubt as to the validity of the pictures, with Saransk Centre's Dmitry Fedotov claiming the images were from two years ago.
Fedotov's rebuttal however can apparently be quashed based on the fact the trainers Lashmanova is wearing in the photo were not made when the picture was allegedly taken.
"Elena Lashmanova did not participate in last winter's Mordovia Cup Race Walking, which took place in December 2014," he told Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.
"As for the photos, they were made in the competition in 2012."
The Russian Athletics Federation (ARF) said it was also investigating the reports with Valentin Balakhnichev, adding the results would be released "in a few days".
The investigation into illegal practices at the Saransk Centre was partly prompted by an online campaign to ban Russian officials for doping failures set up by Australia's Jared Tallent, who took silver behind Kirdyapkin in the London 2012 50km race.
No ban has yet been awarded to the Centre's controversial coach, Viktor Chegin, and, although he was dropped from the Russian team for August's European Championships in connection with the anti-doping probe, he has continued to train athletes.
According to R-Sport, Russian athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichev revealed investigations were "continuing," when asked about Chegin.
Five Russian walkers were banned in 2008 prior to the Beijing Olympics after testing positive for erythropoietin (EPO), including Kanaykin, who returned to competition to win silver at the 2011 World Championships.
Borchin won his gold at Beijing 2008 after serving a one-year ban for taking banned stimulant ephedrine, while 2001 and 2005 world champion and Athens 2004 Olympic silver medallist Olimpiada Ivanova had previously served a two-year ban after failing for stanozolol.
Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has insisted: "Russia plays an active role in the fight against doping, and will continue to use all available means and methods to teach the society about zero tolerance for doping".
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January 2015: IAAF opens investigation after Russia's Olympic champion racewalker reportedly competes during doping ban
December 2014: WADA Athlete chair claims Russian doping allegations "pose serious threat to the integrity and fairness of sport"
December 2014: WADA to investigate allegations of Russian systematic doping after German TV documentary
November 2014: Top Russian race walking official handed four year ban for "violating anti-doping rules"
July 2014: Russia to investigate race walkers' coach after doping claims by Australian Olympic medallist