- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 3, 2008

With the impeccable timing of a sprinter responding to the starter’s pistol, the International Association of Athletics Federations just concluded an 18-month investigation of Russian athletes. Nine days before the Beijing Olympics, track and field’s governing body provisionally suspended seven Russian women July 31, accusing them of tampering with their urine samples.

The list includes several potential Olympic medalists from middle-distance running to the hammer and discus throws.

Countries are going to draw attention when they suddenly start producing awesome performances by multiple athletes in multiple events, which is what the Russian contingent did beginning in early 2007.

Before that, Russian distance runners long had been under suspicion after rising to prominence on the track and on the roads, but these athletes continued to pass their drug tests.

According to the Associated Press, experts began comparing in-competition samples, which clearly were delivered by the Russian women themselves, to those taken out of competition.

“After a long and careful study, it was clear it was not the same people giving the sample,” a source close to the investigation told the AP. The samples were taken from March to August 2007, the source said.

The list includes Yelena Soboleva, a world record holder and world champion middle-distance runner who was favored to win the 800 and 1,500 in Beijing. Ironically, Soboleva was the runner who beat American drug shame Regina Jacobs’ 1,500-meter indoor world record in February 2006.

Giving back is important - There always are many opportunities to give back to the running community. Right now, the Annapolis 10-Mile Run on Aug. 24 needs more than 500 additional volunteers before and on race day. Contact Donna Cogle at [email protected]

As well, the North Face Endurance Challenge series (four regional events and the Endurance Challenge Championship in San Francisco) comes through the Washington area for a second year Sept. 6 at Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling. Race distances range from 10K to 50 miles. To volunteer, contact George Banker at [email protected]

Too young to die - Do you remember in the 2007 Boston Marathon two men in bright yellow running shoes led the first 16 miles before the pack ate them up? The Kenyans from the Foot Solutions team - Josephat Ongeri and Jared Nyamboki - were part of a contingent wearing the Spira sneaker, banned from USATF races because they supposedly have springs in the shoes.

One of their Spira-wearing teammates, Charles Nyakundi Nyamoki, died recently at the age of 33, according to Sue Bozgoz, coach of Foot Solutions elite running team. Nyamoki, who joined Foot Solutions in 2006, apparently was competing in a race in Mexico when he died.

Good evening race - Check out D.C. Road Runners’ Bluemont 5K this Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Bluemont Park in Arlington. Call 703/241-0395 for more information.

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