THE Russian rowing federation and the country's rowers face a four-year doping ban unless the national body replaces its board of directors by the end of next month, they were warned today.
Such a ban would make all of Russia's rowers and officials ineligible for the Beijing Olympics.
The warning by the International Rowing Federation came two days after the sport's governing body found two more Russian rowers guilty of doping violations.
That brought to nine the total number of rowers from Russia suspended for doping in the last 12 months.
The Russian federation has until Februar 15 to confirm that by March 31 it will hold an election for a new executive board.
No current board members can stand for election, and any other staff will have to be approved by FISA, the international federation.
FISA executive director Matt Smith said: "Our objective is not to kill rowing in Russia,
"Our objective is to get to the people who were involved, who knew, who turned the other way."
Smith said the move was unprecedented but appropriate considering the large number of doping violations in one year.
He said: "The severity of the sanction must correspond with the severity of the crime."
If the Russian federation meets FISA's demands, and providing their rowers qualify, the team would be able to take part in the Beijing Olympics, he added.
Under FISA rules, in the event of eight or more doping violations in a 12-month period, a national federation can be banned for four years from all FISA events, including the Olympics.
Last week, the governing body banned all the federation's coaches and administrators - but not the athletes - from taking part in FISA events for one year.