DUSHANBE, August 1, 2008, Asia-Plus - Seven Russian female athletes, including five selected for the Beijing Olympics, were temporarily suspended by the IAAF on Thursday over doping offences.

The International Association of Athletics Federations said on its website the athletes, including Yelena Soboleva, who set a world record in the 1,500-meter race at the world indoor championships this year, were suspended "for a fraudulent substitution of urine which is both a prohibited method and also a form of tampering with the doping control process."

Valentin Balakhnichev, head of the All Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), was quoted by Russian media as saying that the IAAF had analyzed doping samples stored since April 2007 using comparative DNA techniques.

"The third set of samples was taken in Moscow last week and has been analyzed already, showing that the DNA samples dated April-May 2007 do not correspond to [their] true DNA," he said. "This prompted the IAAF to suspect our athletes of substituting doping samples and to suspend them from all competitions."

Also suspended were two-times world 1,500-meter champion Tatyana Tomashova, another 1,500-meter runner Yulia Fomenko, hammer thrower Gulfiya Khanafeyeva, discus thrower Darya Pishchalnikova, and middle-distance runners Svetlana Cherkasova and Olga Yegorova.

Soboleva, Tomashova and Pishchalnikova, the European discus champion and World Championship silver medalist in Osaka, were medal hopefuls for the Beijing Olympics. The Games will take place August 8-24.