Alexandr Loginov claimed three gold medals at the European Championships ©IBU

Alexandr Loginov and Irina Staryk each returned from respective doping bans to claim a hat-trick of titles as Russia dominated at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Open European Championships in the Polish resort of Duszniki-Zdrój.

The country won six out of the eight available gold medals to finish comfortably clear at the top of the medals table.

The competition took place under a cloud of controversy as investigations continue into Russian doping in the sport at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games and other events. 

Success for two athletes who have recently returned from bans will hardly reduce critical voices from other countries.

Loginov, 24, was handed a two-year ban from the sport in November 2014 after the re-testing of a sample from the previous year showed traces of banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO).

Starykh, 29, had been considered a home medal hope for Sochi 2014 before she also failed for EPO shortly before the Games.

She was handed a three-year ban in December 2013 so only returned to competition last month.

Russia celebrate their mixed team relay gold medal at the European Championships ©IBU
Russia celebrate their mixed team relay gold medal at the European Championships ©IBU

Loginov claimed victories in the 20 kilometres individual and 12.5km pursuit events. 

Starykh was victorious in the 15km individual and 10km pursuit women's races.

The duo then teamed up with Svetlana Sleptsova and Alexey Volkov to win the mixed relay.

Russia's sixth gold came courtesy of Daria Virolaynen and Sochi 2014 bronze medallist Evgeniy Garanichev in the single mixed relay.

Ukraine and Bulgaria were the only other nations to win gold medals in the Polish resort.

Iuliya Dzhyma won the women's 7.5km sprint while Bulgarian Vladimir Iliev crossed the line first in the men's 10km sprint.

Most of the top athletes, however, were absent as they prepare for the World Championships in Hochfilzen in Austria, which begin on February 9.