Probe as Russian athletes withdraw ahead of doping tests

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MOSCOW (AP) -- The Russian track and field federation says it has launched an investigation after dozens of athletes reportedly withdrew from a competition following the arrival of drug testers.

According to Russian news outlet Championat, as many as 36 athletes withdrew from the Siberian indoor championship meet in Irkutsk last week, many citing illnesses.

The federation says it has asked athletes for explanations and "has started an internal investigation."

It's not the first time Russian athletes have been accused of dodging doping tests. The federation launched an investigation into five sudden withdrawals at a meet last year, but hasn't reported any results.

In 2016, the World Anti-Doping Agency said one Russian track athlete had tried to bribe a drug tester, while another ran out of the stadium during her own race.

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