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Olympic steeplechase champ Zaripova faces doping ban

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MOSCOW (AP) — Olympic 3,000 meters steeplechase champion Yulia Zaripova faces a doping ban and the potential loss of several major titles in the latest scandal to hit Russian athletics.

Athletics' world governing body, the IAAF, told The Associated Press that Zaripova is under suspicion under biological passport rules, a means to track extreme blood values which indicate doping.

IAAF spokesman Chris Turner said "a decision is expected soon" on Zaripova, who voluntarily withdrew from competition in July 2013.

Zaripova has previously said she missed the August 2013 world championships in Moscow after injuring her leg in training and then that she was taking a break from athletics to have a baby.

Her case follows that of five Russian race-walkers, three of them Olympic champions, banned Tuesday. In those cases, results were annulled as far back as 2009, including five world championship gold medal-winning performances.

If Zaripova is banned, she potentially stands to lose her Olympic gold medal from the London 2012 games, her 2011 world championship gold and 2009 silver, as well as her 2010 European title. She could be prevented from competing at next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The main beneficiary would be Tunisia's Habiba Ghribi, who finished second behind Zaripova at the 2012 Olympics and the world championships the year before.

The Russian athletics federation's top coach Valentin Maslakov resigned Friday with the organization facing multiple doping-related scandals, including:

- World Anti-Doping Agency and IAAF investigations into claims that federation officials organized a systematic doping program, as alleged in a German TV documentary last month. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency is alleged to have covered up positive tests for top Russian athletes.

- Bans for five Russian race-walkers announced Tuesday, affecting five world championship gold medals from 2009 and 2011.

- An IAAF investigation into whether four top Russian race-walkers, including Olympic champions Sergei Kirdyapkin and Elena Lashmanova, raced at a Russian meet last month while suspended. They could now miss next year's Olympics.

- Allegations that Sergei Morozov, a former race-walker serving a life ban from any role in athletics, was employed as a coach at the Russian national training center.

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