(Reuters) - Eight Russian athletes accused of violating anti-doping regulations will have their cases handled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland instead of the suspended All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF), CAS said on Friday.
CAS will act as the sole instance decision-making body in the cases of race walkers Vera Sokolova, Elmira Alembekova, Ivan Noskov, Mikhail Ryzhov and Denis Strelkov, who all tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO in Saransk last June.
ARAF's operations have been suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) following Russia's ban from international athletics.
In November, a special commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) exposed widespread state-sponsored cheating and corruption in Russian sport.
The case of middle-distance runner Ekaterina Sharmina, who has been charged with use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or method following analysis of her biological passport, will also be dealt with by CAS.
Heptathlete Tatyana Chernova and middle-distance runner Kristina Ugarova have also had their cases for irregular findings in their biological passports referred to CAS.
(Reporting by Rob Hodgetts, editing by Ed Osmond)