Putin: Russia to do all it can against doping

SPARE THE INNOCENT: Mr Putin agreed with Russia's Olympic Committee, saying that there should not be collective punishment and clean athletes should not be affected by the doping scandal.


    Nov 13, 2015

    Putin: Russia to do all it can against doping


    PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia must "do everything" to eradicate doping, ordering an inquiry into allegations of major drug abuse in athletics before the country risks being barred from next year's Olympics.

    Moscow is scrambling to respond to a bombshell World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report released this week that alleged systematic doping in Russian athletics, including suggesting a foreign specialist could take over its discredited testing laboratory.

    Athletics' world governing body, the IAAF, has given Russia until today to come up with answers to the allegations, and Mr Putin met sports chiefs in Sochi, the Black Sea home of the 2014 Winter Olympics, ahead of the deadline.

    The stakes are high for Russia, which risks being excluded from the Rio Summer Olympics over allegations of corruption and "state-sponsored" doping.

    "We must do everything in Russia to rid ourselves of this problem," said Mr Putin at the meeting - ironically called to discuss the country's preparations for Rio 2016.

    "We must carry out our own internal inquiry," he said, telling sports officials to show "the most open and professional cooperation with international anti-doping authorities".

    "This problem does not exist only in Russia, but if our foreign colleagues have questions, we must answer them," he said.

    It is the first time Mr Putin, himself an avid sportsman, has commented publicly on the charges levelled by an independent commission chaired by WADA's Dick Pound, which have rocked the flagship Olympics sport.

    The Russian leade echoed a plea by Russia's Olympic Committee not to sacrifice the dreams of clean competitors, saying there should not be collective punishment.

    "If someone breaks the rules on doping, the responsibility should be individual," the Kremlin leader said.

    "Athletes who have never touched doping should not pay for those who have transgressed." As the doping storm has developed during the week, Russian officials have given conflicting responses.

    Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko on Wednesday lashed out at the claims, saying they were an attempt to "defile the image" of the country and arguing that excluding Russia from the Olympics would be to get rid of a "major competitor".

    But Mikhail Butov, the Russian athletics federation's secretary-general and one of the 27 council members of the IAAF who will meet today, conceded that doping was an issue.

    "We are conscious of the problem that we've got. We've got a problem with doping," he admitted to the BBC.

    Russia, accused by WADA of "sabotaging" the last Olympic Games, finished fourth in the medals table at London 2012.

    The furore comes after Grigory Rodchenkov, the disgraced director of Moscow's suspended anti-doping laboratory who according to WADA deliberately destroyed almost 1,500 samples, quit his post.

    The crisis engulfing athletics comes hot on the heels of a massive corruption scandal at world football's top body FIFA and as cycling is still recovering from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

    Olympic chief Thomas Bach, in his first reaction to WADA's findings, said the report was "sad and shocking", pointing to allegations that some officials demanded vast sums of money to hush up positive dope tests.

    "I would never have imagined that in an international federation, money would be solicited from athletes to manipulate results," said the International Olympic Committee president.

    Fears are growing that the scandal could widen to include other countries and other sports, as WADA suggested in its report.

    Andrey Baranov, a Russian sports agent who sparked the global investigation into athletics doping, told Britain's Guardian newspaper: "It is wrong just to be focusing on Russia. There should be a similar investigation into countries like Kenya and Ethiopia too.

    "Their top athletes are earning far more than the Russians. Yet their levels of testing are very limited."

    The German TV documentary that triggered the WADA investigation claimed that a third of the 146 world and Olympic medals awarded between 2001 and the 2012 London Olympics were tainted by suspicions of doping.

    The IOC, however, said it did not believe there was any problem with drugs results from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, carried out at a WADA-accredited laboratory.