|Race walking is the latest in a long line of sports tainted by doping scandals [GALLO/GETTY]
Five leading Russian race walkers, including a world record holder, have been banned for doping, the Russian athletics federation (RAF) said.
Sergei Morozov, who holds the world record in the 20km walk, Vladimir Kanaikin, Viktor Burayev, Alexei Voevodin and Igor Yerokhin were banned for two years each after testing positive for EPO.
"They all had failed a test for EPO and after a hearing by our federation's anti-doping board on September 9, each of the five athletes was banned for two years," RAF secretary general Vladimir Usachyov was quoted as saying.
"Both samples A and B of all five athletes came out positive and we had no other choice but to ban them for two years."
All five were forced to miss last month's Olympics.
Kanaikin, 23, and Morozov, 20, had been favourites for the gold in the 20km in Beijing after setting world records over the distance in the past 12 months.
Kanaikin shaved five seconds off the record at last year's Grand Prix final in his home town of Saransk before Morozov shattered it by more than 30 seconds at the Russian national championships in Saransk earlier this year.
Yerokhin, 23, and Burayev, 25, have also achieved good results either in world or European championships in recent years, while Voevodin, 27, won the 50km bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
All five live in Saransk and were trained by Viktor Chegin, who also serves as Russia's chief race walking coach.