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New coach says Russian Olympic team now clean after years of doping scandals

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MOSCOW — Russia has put years of doping scandals behind it and now has a clean team ahead of next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the country's new head track and field coach said.

Yuri Borzakovsky, the gold medalist in the 800 meters at the 2004 Athens Olympics, was appointed head coach last month after his predecessor, Valentin Maslakov, resigned following a doping scandal in which three Russian Olympic champion race walkers were banned.

"The guys now understand that the past should stay in the past," Borzakovsky said at a news conference in Moscow on Monday night. "Now we have a new team and everyone in it is clean."

Borzakovsky said his message was accompanied by more intensive anti-doping enforcement and education programs.

"The athletes even have a certain fear of the management and of me personally because I've made sure the guys understand that it's finished, that that page has been turned," he said. "Already (doping scandals) are last century and we've started a new life."

Borzakovsky has been head coach in a temporary capacity since last month and is likely to be formally confirmed on a permanent basis by the end of the week after receiving public backing from athletics federation officials and Russia's influential Sports Ministry.

His appointment comes at a time when Russian track and field is in transition. The Russian athletics federation has no president after Valentin Balakhnichev, who had been in charge since the breakup of the Soviet Union, resigned last month in connection with the race-walking doping scandal.

Russian success in track and field has long been dogged by doping cases. Of the 15 Russians who won individual athletics medals at the 2012 London Olympics, six have since been banned for doping, including discus thrower Darya Pishchalnikova, who was stripped of her silver medal.

Two other Russian medalists from London are under investigation as part of a World Anti-Doping Agency probe into allegations that the country operated a systematic doping program organized by Russian athletics federation officials.

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