Australia's double Olympic walking silver medallist Jared Tallent has called for Russian athletes to be banned from competition this year as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has expressed "major concern" over the recent spate of Russian doping cases.
Tallent, who claims he has been effectively denied two Olympic golds in the 50km race walk due to doping, has spoken out following this week's announcement of bans for five Russian race walkers, including the man who beat him to the London 2012 title by over a minute, Sergei Kirdyapkin.
"Clearly they think you can't win without cheating, unfortunately," Tallent said.
What has particularly incensed the 30-year-old from Ballarat - who has been backed by Athletics Australia - is that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), which suspended Kirdyapkin for three years, said he should be stripped of a World Cup gold medal won in May 2012, but has ruled he was clean for his London win three months later.
And in backdating his ban to October 2012, RUSADA appear to have given the 35-year-old walker the opportunity of defending his title at the 2016 Rio Games.
Tallent has called this a "ridiculous" injustice, and says he is now relying on the World Anti-Doping Agency and, or, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to appeal the finding.
In a statement today, the IAAF said the number of Russian doping cases was "a major concern".
"As a result of these five new cases, a total of 23 elite Russian athletes have now been sanctioned under the IAAF Athlete Biological Passport programme which was launched in 2009, and 37 athletes in total from all nations have been sanctioned in this period as ABP cases)," the IAAF said.
"The number of Russian doping cases in athletics generally, and in race walking specifically, is a major concern for the IAAF and we are fully investigating recent doping allegations in Russian athletics, with WADA's support."
Tallent told The Age newspaper: "Clearly he [Kirdyapin] has been doping over an extended period of time.
"If I'm honest, I felt like I deserved the gold in 2012.
"I wasn't going to say anything publicly, but for a long time most athletes in the international race walking community, the athletes I compete with and train with from different countries were always suspicious about the Russians.
"The problems there are huge and they haven't gone away and nothing has really been done about it.
"The IAAF hasn't done enough, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency hasn't done enough.
"It has, quite frankly, been ridiculous."
Tallent was also a silver medallist in the 50km event in Beijing in 2008 behind Italy's Alex Schwazer, who was removed from the 2012 Olympic event due to doping.
Kirdyapkin set an Olympic record of 3:35.59 in London and Tallent recorded a personal best of 3.36:53.
"It has been suggested in the Italian media that he [Schwazer] was most likely doping in 2008, but they don't have enough evidence to prove it because they didn't have the blood passport back then," Tallent said.
Asked if he believes he was beaten by drug cheats at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics in the 50km events, Tallent told The Age: "I would say so, yes, both times."
The IAAF added that, pending analysis of the Russian Athletic Federation's case, a number of major international titles would be redistributed.
Contact the writer of this story at mike.rowbottom[email protected]
January 2015: Three Olympic champions among latest five Russian race walkers handed doping bans
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"