Double Olympic hammer gold medallist and world record-holder Yuriy Sedykh has died of a heart attack at the age of 66 ©Getty Images

Double Olympic hammer throw gold medallist Yuriy Sedykh, accused of doping during his career, has died at the age of 66, it was announced today.

The Russian Athletics Federation revealed that Sedykh had died early this morning following a heart attack.

"Deeply mourn the loss of Yuriy Sedykh," World Athletics senior vice-president and Olympic pole vault gold medallist Sergey Bubka said.

"For me, Yuriy was a friend, a wise mentor."

Like Bubka, Sedykh was born in Ukraine.

Sedykh won the Olympic gold medal at Montreal 1976 and Moscow 1980 but missed Los Angeles 1984 because the Soviet Union boycotted it.

He returned to win an Olympic silver medal at Seoul 1988 and, three years later, claimed his only World Championships title in Tokyo.

Sedykh, who competed for the Soviet Union, set a world record of 86.74 metres at the European Championships in Stuttgart in 1986 that still stands.

It was one of three consecutive titles he won at the European Championships. 

Former Moscow anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov wrote in his book The Rodchenkov Affair: How I Brought Down Russia’s Secret Doping Empire last year that Sedykh was "a huge steroid abuser" who was protected by officials in the Soviet Union.

Rodchenkov alleged that one of Sedykh's samples contained such large traces of the anabolic steroid stanozolol that it contaminated laboratory equipment.

Sedykh always denied doping, however. 

In a 2015 interview with Russian newspaper Sport Express, Sedykh claimed his big throws in the 1980s were because of better coaching and the Soviet Union's intensive talent-scouting programme.

Following his retirement, Sedykh moved to France and worked as a physical education teacher.

Yuriy Sedykh set a world record for the hammer in 1986 that still stands ©Getty Images
Yuriy Sedykh set a world record for the hammer in 1986 that still stands ©Getty Images

He was married to another Soviet world record-holder, shot putter Natalya Lisovskaya, the 1988 Olympic gold medallist.

Their daughter Alexia won hammer gold for France at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

Sedykh’s first wife, Lyudmila Kondratyeva, had won the Olympic gold medal in the women’s 100 metres at Moscow 1980.

Sedykh is the second Ukrainian-born Soviet Union Olympic gold medallist to die within a month.

Last month, Vladimir Golubnichiy, a double Olympic race walking gold medallist at Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964, passed away.