ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) -- A Russian race-walker who won gold at the 2011 world championships could face a lengthy ban over allegations he competed while under a doping suspension.
Sergei Bakulin, who won world championship gold in the men's 50-kilometer walk, has been suspended since December 2012 over irregularities in his biological passport, IAAF spokesman Chris Turner told The Associated Press on Friday. The ban had not been previously announced.
Turner said Bakulin will remain "provisionally suspended until the conclusion of the legal proceedings."
Bakulin, 28, has not competed in a major event since finishing sixth in the 50K walk at the 2012 London Olympics. His long absence had remained a mystery.
Russian athletics is already facing separate allegations of systematic doping and cover-ups of positive tests.
Bakulin could now face extra sanctions after photographs posted online appeared to show him competing in a Russian competition last month which featured some of the world's top walkers. Two Russian athletes serving doping bans, Olympic champion Elena Lashmanova and former world junior champion Ekaterina Medvedeva, are also under investigation over claims they competed at the event.
The event organizer, a leading official in the Russian race-walking program, has said that pictures were actually taken in 2012. However, Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee disputed this version of events, detailing various discrepancies in the photographs, including athletes wearing apparel and shoes that Dunfee says were not available in 2012.
Russian athletics federation head Valentin Balakhnichev has also set up a commission to investigate the case.