By Paul Osborne

Valentin Maslakov has resigned from his position as head coach of Russian athletics ©Moscow2013Valentin Maslakov, head coach of the Russian athletics team, has resigned from his role amid a series of doping scandals that have plagued the world's largest country over recent years.

The 70-year-old, in charge of Russian athletics since 2007 after a coaching career spanning 40 years, offered his letter of resignation today in the aftermath of the German television documentary that reported systematic doping within the team.

The decision comes just days after five Russian race walkers, including Olympic champions Sergei Kirdyapkin, Olga Kaniskina and Sergei Bakulin, were handed bans for failed drugs tests dating back to 2012.

Valentin Balakhnichev, President of the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF), labelled Maslakov's decision "a courageous act of this profession" in an interview with Team Russia 2016.

He added: "We discussed this together after the effect the doping revelations have had on Russian athletics.

"Even though Maslakov has nothing to do with anti-doping policies of the Russian athletics team, he could not stand by idly and decided to take responsibility for those who he was in charge of."

Valentin Maslakov's resignation comes just days after three Russian Olympic champions, including Olga Kaniskina, were handed bans over doping violations ©Getty ImagesValentin Maslakov's resignation comes just days after three Russian Olympic champions, including Olga Kaniskina, were handed bans over doping violations ©Getty Images

Russian sport has been in turmoil since German television station ARD released a three-part documentary last month claiming systematic doping in Russian athletics, even alleging of Government involvement in a mass cover-up.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko dismissed the allegations as being aimed at humiliating sport in the country, but yesterday announced the introduction of a new Government position specifically aimed at combating doping in Russia.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has also expressed concerns over the number of Russian doping cases after it was revealed that 23 of the 37 athletes sanctioned under the IAAF's biological passport programme since 2009 were Russian.

The World Anti-Doping Agency also opened an investigation into allegations of widespread doping and corruption in the sport, aired in the ARD documentary, with the German broadcaster alleging that as many as 99 per cent of Russian athletes were guilty of doping.

Maslakov's exit could potentially be followed by a similar fate for Balakhnichev, with the head of the ARAF declaring earlier this week that he would relinquish his post if requested.

Before the latest scandals broke, Balakhnichev had already said he did not plan to seek another term as President next year, when he will be 67.

He did admit, however, that he would only resign once the doping scandals were resolved and he had managed to "reform" the national team.

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