By Nick Butler

London 2012 Olympic steeplechase champion Yulia Zaripova has become the latest Russian embroiled in a doping scandal ©AFP/Getty ImagesA high-profile Russian athlete has been embroiled in yet another doping crisis, with 3,000 meters steeplechase champion Yulia Zaripova having been absent from competition since 2013 over irregularities in her biological passport. 

Zaripova, who also won gold at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu after having taken silver two years earlier in Berlin, has recorded extreme blood values which are highly indicative of doping.

An IAAF spokesperson confirmed to insidethegames today that this is an Athlete Biological Passport Case, adding that the athlete had voluntarily withdrawn from competition in late July 2013, and that a decision is now expected soon.

It had previously been reported that the Russian, who set what was then a personal best time of 9min 6.72sec to triumph at London 2012, had withdrawn from her home World Championships in Moscow in 2013 due to injury before skipping the 2014 season in order to have a baby.

But, if found guilty, she is set to be stripped of her Olympic gold medal, with silver medallist Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia set to be promoted to gold, while Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia and Milcah Chemos of Kenya could move up to silver and bronze.

Habiba Ghribi could soon receive a world and Olympic title ©Getty ImagesHabiba Ghribi could soon receive a world and Olympic title ©Getty Images

Ghribi also finished runner-up behind Zaripova at the 2011 World Championships, so could receive another gold medal there, while Spanish silver medallist Marta Domínguez could be awarded the gold from the 2010 European Championships.

But, in an indication of the deep-rooted problems within the sport, Dominguez has herself been embroiled in the Operacion Puerto doping scandal in Spain, being arrested and accused of being involved in a doping ring and supplying athletes with banned substances before being cleared by a Spanish court in 2011.

Yet most significantly, the news is a further blow for Russia following a tumultuous week in which five race walkers - including Olympic champions Sergei Kirdyapkin, Olga Kaniskina and Sergei Bakulin - were handed bans for failed drugs tests dating back to 2012.

Another racewalker, London 2012 Olympic champion Yelena Lashmanova, has also been accused of competing while serving a doping suspension, something that, if proven, would result in a two year extension to her ban.

Elena Lashmanova was given a doping ban in February 2014 but reportedly competed in a race in Russia in December ©Getty ImagesElena Lashmanova was given a doping ban in February 2014 but reportedly competed in a race in Russia in December ©Getty Images

Valentin Maslakov, head coach of the Russian athletics team, yesterday resigned from his role in response to the problems, while the country's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko announced that a new ministerial Government post is to be introduced to specifically tackle doping issues.

Russian Athletics Federation President Valentin Balakhnichev could potentially soon suffer a similar fate to Maslakov, with the official declaring earlier this week that he would relinquish his post if requested.

Last month, a German TV documentary produced allegations of systematic doping across the Russian athletics team, suggesting as much as 99 per cent of the national squad are complicit.

A three-man investigatory Commission has since been convened by the World Anti Doping Agency, headed by Canada's International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound, with findings to be heard by the end of the year. 

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