Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko denies state-backed doping programme
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has denied there is a state-backed doping scheme in Russia.
"I can say once again, there are no state doping schemes in Russia," Mutko was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying on Tuesday (NZT Wednesday).
The comment came in response to the World Anti-Doping Agency report released on Monday (NZT Tuesday) in which Russian doping programmes for athletes at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics were revealed.
The report claimed the Russian government was involved in the running and covering-up of the doping with the Sports Ministry said to have overseen the manipulation of athletes' analytical results for years before Sochi.
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Mutko denied any wrongdoing by the Russian government though, telling the Tass new agency "we absolutely share and support today's decisions," and said the main issue was not Russian doping but "an unprecedented attack on the whole Olympic movement," without going into further details.
The WADA report had, however, confirmed allegations made by former Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory head Grigory Rodchenkov, who two months ago told the New York Times that dozens of Russians used performance-enhancing drugs in Sochi with approval from national sports authorities.
It said the catalyst for the development of a system to conceal widespread doping had been Russia's performance at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, where a country that cherishes its status as a sporting superpower finished 11th, with only three gold medals.
"The surprise result of the Sochi investigation was the revelation of the extent of state oversight and directed control of the Moscow Laboratory in processing and covering up urine samples of Russian athletes from virtually all sports before and after the Sochi Games," the report said.
The report also talked about the Russian government's failsafe strategy.
"If all the operational precautions to promote and permit doping by Russian athletes proved to have been ineffective for whatever reason, the laboratory provided a failsafe mechanism.
"The state had the ability to transform a positive analytical result into a negative one by ordering that the analytical process of the Moscow Laboratory be altered."
Mutko said on Tuesday (NZT Wednesday) he hoped the International Olympic Committee would make a rational decision about the participation of Russian athletes at the Rio Olympic Games, Interfax news agency reported.
"For me, the main thing is that our team attends the Olympic Games," Mutko was quoted as saying.
He also welcomed the International Olympic Committee's decision to open investigations into allegations of Russian doping. He denied all wrongdoing and said he expected his subordinates to be cleared too.