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Anna Lukyanova,Russia,IAAF,2016 Olympics,

Photo: Irina Maracheva was suspended for two years by the Russian Olympic Committee (Getty Images)

Russia was suspended from international athletics following a vote by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in November, after allegations of widespread state-sponsored doping within Russian athletics and must reform their program in order to return for the 2016 Olympics.

While the authorities fight for reinstatement, they have started to put the drug cheating athletes to the sword, with news of the suspension of four such coming out last week. The athletes are: Former European 800-metre silver medallist Irina Maracheva, Anna Lukyanova, Elena Nikulina and Maria Nikolayeva.

All the athletes were sanctioned by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) for violating anti-doping rules and will be ineligible to compete for between two and four years. Nikulina and Nikolayeva were suspended for four years while Maracheva and Lukyanova who were handed a two-year suspension.

Maracheva finished third in the 2012 European Championships in Helsinki but was promoted to the silver medal after Yelena Arzhakova was stripped of the title after failing a drugs test. Race walker Anna Lukyanova picked up the silver at the 2010 World Junior Championships.

Yelena Nikulina and Maria Nikolayeva, both middle-distance runners, represented the country at the European Team Championships.