Great effort will continue to be made by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to educate young athletes about the dangers of doping, after 15-year-old Russian twins Olga and Yelena Paushkina were each handed two-year bans.
Both were promising middle distance runners, with Elena having won the 1500 metres gold medal at the 2013 European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht in a swift time of 4 min 25.98sec.
It was announced in May that the duo had each test positive for unspecified "prohibited substances" on April 24, with the Anti-Doping Commission of the All-Russian Athletics Federation having now confirmed both will receive bans.
This follows the failed test experienced by 16-year-old weightlifter Chika Amalaha during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow earlier this summer, leading to her being stripped of the under 53 kilogram gold medal she initially won.
Speaking today, Ben Nichols, WADA's senior manager of media relations and communications, reiterated to insidethegames the many measures being taken to educate young people of the dangers of taking drugs, either deliberately or inadvertently.
"We are aware of the suspensions issued to the two athletes, but we must wait to receive the full case file before we can review the reasons for the decision," Nichols said.
"Generally speaking, WADA has long been concerned about the need to educate young and aspiring athletes about the dangers of doping.
"Through its Play True Generation programme, WADA has put in place successful preventative measures which have educated the youth on the consequences of doping, and have helped promote fair play, values-based messages to not just aspiring athletes but to their coaches and support personnel, too.
"Through the WADA Athlete Committee, athlete-to-youth interaction is an excellent way of getting the clean sport message across.
"WADA's Outreach programme at last month's Youth Olympic Games provided an excellent example of how the athletes' message can cut through and reach the young in an easy-to-understand, engaging way.
"Importantly, tools to educate the young on anti-doping are now well established and are available for anti-doping organisations to roll out across their own programmes worldwide."
Alongside the twins, two more Russian middle distance runners, 25-year-old Vyacheslav Shalamov and 24-year-old Polina Dontsova, as well as 22-year-old steeplechaser Damir Saurbayev, have been simultaneously handed similar bans.
The news is a further blow for athletics, and indeed sport as a whole, in Russia as the country seeks to improve a terrible anti-doping record that saw 32 figures from the sport of athletics alone test positive in 2013.
Swimming is another sport to have been hit hard and in July, Vladimir Dyatchin, the two-time world open water champion, was provisionally suspended for failing a test, while breaststroke world record holder Yulia Efimova and European champion and world record holder Vitali Melnikov are currently serving suspensions.
But cases have occurred across the sporting spectrum, with athletes from boxing, rowing, canoeing, weightlifting and Greco-Roman wrestling having been suspended this month alone.
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