Virginia marathoners stripped of titles due to Russian agent's ban, doping concerns

RICHMOND, Va. -- Marathon winners in Virginia have been stripped of their titles because officials say they were managed by a Russian sports agent who has been banned from participating in the races over doping concerns.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Wednesday that the runners participated in the men's Anthem Richmond Marathon and the women's Markel Richmond Half Marathon on Saturday. Officials say the runners used Larisa Mikhaylova as their agent.

The disqualified runners are Kenyan Julius Koskei, who won the men's marathon Saturday, and Ethiopians Firegenet Mandefiro and Gadise Megersa, the first- and third-place finishers in Saturday's women's half-marathon, the Times-Dispatch reported.

Some of Mikhaylova's runners have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, prompting an investigation and many U.S. races to exclude her participation. Officials say Mikhaylova used an alias to participate in Richmond's races.

The Associated Press wrote in 2016 that Mikhaylova enters many runners in smaller races that don't require drug tests. She told the AP last year that she was blameless.

Temesgen Habtemariam of Ethiopia was declared the men's marathon winner in Richmond. Nicole DiMercurio of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, was declared the women's half-marathon winner.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.