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By ESPN Staff

Russian coach banned over vicious attack

MOSCOW, Nov 7 (Reuters) - A former coach of Russian third division club Metallurg Lipetsk has been given a life ban from the game after inciting a vicious attack on his players.

A disciplinary committee of the Russian FA on Tuesday suspended Stanislav Bernikov for his role in hiring a gang of thugs who attacked three Metallurg players at the club's training ground on Sept. 16.

Metallurg captain Alexei Morochko suffered the most serious injuries in the attack, spending several weeks in hospital with a broken nose, concussion and a bullet wound in one arm.

A goalkeeper and a defender also suffered minor injuries when four or five thugs attacked them after training.

"After a thorough review of the incident and interviewing several witnesses in the case, it was decided to forbid Stanislav Bernikov from taking part in any activity involving professional football for life," the Russian FA said in a statement on its Web site.

An investigation revealed that the coach and the players had argued about allegations of match-rigging and bribe-taking in Lipetsk, an industrial city about 500 km southeast of Moscow. The gang arrived shortly afterwards.

Russian sport has been riddled with bloody vendettas. In 1997, Russian ice hockey chief Valentin Sych was killed by a hail of bullets as he drove to work while just two months later a Spartak Moscow financial director was shot dead by hired gunmen.