Russia bans four of its athletes over doping offences

Country aims to lift its suspension ahead of Rio 2016

Russia bans four of its athletes over doping offences

A sign reads: "Russian National Anti-doping Agency RUSADA" on a building in Moscow, Russia. Picture by: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP/Press Association Images

Russia has banned four athletes for doping offences as it tries to have its suspension on competing lifted before this summer's Olympics.

Former European 800-metres silver medallist Irina Maracheva is among those punished with a two-year ban.

Runners Maria Nikolaeva and Yelena Nikulina have been suspended for four years, while racewalker Anna Lukyanova must serve a two year ban.

World governing body the IAAF suspended the country from track and field after an independent report found evidence of widespread doping.