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Sunday 22 September 2019

Russian track federation 'to admit some things' mentioned in doping report

Vladimir Putin during a visit a sports centre in Sochi (RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool/AP)
Vladimir Putin during a visit a sports centre in Sochi (RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool/AP)

The Russian track federation has said it will "admit some things" mentioned in the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report as it bids to keep its place in competition.

Federation president Vadim Zelichenok said Russia has prepared a response to the sport's governing body, the IAAF, whose council is due to decide on Friday on whether to suspend Russia.

That could open the door to exclusion from next year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Mr Zelichenok said that in the response "we admit some things, we argue with some things, some are already fixed, it's a variety", but declined to provide further details, saying "it's not for the press".

Russia will be represented at the IAAF vote by Mikhail Butov, who is the track federation's general secretary and also an IAAF council member.

Meanwhile, the Russian sports minister said Russia has no intention of boycotting the Olympics.

Vitaly Mutko told the Associated Press the re will "not in any case" be a boycott.

He added: "Never. Russia is against a boycott. Russia is against political interference in sport. Understand that Russia is a dependable partner of the international Olympic movement."

Three days after the Wada report accused Russia of state-sponsored doping, Mr Mutko also appealed for Russia's track team to be allowed to compete, arguing that a blanket ban would unfairly punish clean athletes.

Mr Mutko said: "It will be painful for those athletes with clean consciences who could compete, that's the first thing. And the second thing is that it goes against the spirit of the Wada code.

"The commission itself writes about it in its report. It's about protecting the athletes with clean consciences."

During the Cold War, the United States and allies boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics in protest at the Soviet Union. Four years later, there was a Soviet-led boycott of the Olympics in Los Angeles.

Russian president Vladimir Putin insisted on Wednesday that clean athletes should be allowed to compete and asked Russian sports officials to carry out an internal investigation into the allegations made in the doping report.

Mr Mutko said Russia would provide constant updates about its investigation.

He said: "Practically every day, at the end of the day, we release some kind of information message about the steps we're taking and we will continue to do that.

"We're prepared to inform international society about the steps we're taking, the investigation, the decisions."

The Russian government has consistently slammed the Wada commission's report for what it says is a lack of evidence.

Mr Mutko said there was an over-reliance on confidential sources and condemned the inclusion of material from undercover recordings made by whistleblowers, which he said violated the rights of those accused of doping.

The scandal also entered the arena of international diplomacy on Thursday as the Russian foreign ministry issued a stinging critique of the report's authors.

A spokeswoman said: "The position of the special commission on doping with regards to Russian athletes looks extremely biased, politicised."

She added that sources cited in the report seem "extremely doubtful".

In Sochi, the host city of last year's Winter Olympics, some Russian track and field athletes trained in the sun on Thursday.

Many remained upbeat about their chances of competing in the Olympics while questioning why other countries were not being investigated alongside Russia.

Maxim Sidorov, a shot putter who competed at the 2012 Olympics, said: "It happens all around the world. Why are these measures taken only for the Russian team? I don't understand this.

"Not only we, if it's proved, are using doping. Other countries do it as well. Why aren't they disqualified?"

As former European 400-metre relay champion Ksenia Aksyonova trained, her coach said that banning Russia would be "a disaster for athletes".

Rif Babikov said: "They devoted their life to this and because of broad political motives probably the whole team can be disqualified.

"We have seen this - in 1984 we boycotted the Olympics in Los Angeles because of politics, in 1980 western countries boycotted Moscow. Nothing good came out of this."

PA Media

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