Russian track coach admits to breaking doping ban

MOSCOW — A top Russian track coach has admitted breaking his life ban for doping offenses.

Vladimir Kazarin, who once coached Olympic gold medalist Maria Savinova and the athlete-turned-whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, told Russian state broadcaster Match TV that accusations he continued working with athletes after he was banned in 2017 are true.

His admission comes as Russia pushes for its doping ban from international athletics to be lifted in time for the world championships in September and October. Since 2015, the Russian team has been barred from international events, though dozens of top Russians are allowed to compete as neutrals.

In an interview published on Thursday, Kazarin said he grew a beard in a failed bid to avoid detection. However, he was found at a training camp in Kyrgyzstan by staff from the Russian anti-doping agency, which says it identified seven athletes including Artyom Denmukhametov, a former world championship competitor. Those runners could now be banned.

Kazarin added he was warned to stop coaching but carried on because he felt let down by Russian athletics officials who "threw us away like trash."

"Since I'd spent my whole life working in athletes, my thoughts led me to continue this work," he told Match TV.

Kazarin was banned in 2017 when the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled he was guilty of possessing, trafficking and administering banned substances. Much of the evidence against him came from Stepanova's testimony and undercover footage.

Kazarin said on Thursday his athletes trained clean and said he gave Stepanova only tablets "just so she'd go away" because she had been nagging him.

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