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Russia won’t yield to external pressure in athletes’ disqualification — sports minister

August 27, 2015, 18:17 UTC+3
The sports minister’s statement comes amid fresh allegations of doping in international athletics, including Russian athletes
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© AP Photo/David J. Phillip

MOSCOW, August 27. /TASS/. Russia is a self-sufficient country in the fight against doping and won’t yield to pressure by some western media organizations demanding Russian athletes’ suspension on the grounds of alleged proofs held by foreign journalists, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Thursday.

The first documentary on doping in athletics aired by the German TV Channel ARD in December claimed that Russian athletes systematically took banned substances on instructions from their coaches.

The main characters in the documentary were athlete Yulia Stepanova and her husband Vitaly Stepanov who used to work for the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).

In subsequent programs aired by ARD, Stepanova also accused her former coaches and national team mates of doping. She used audio and video records made secretly from the athletes she had talked with as the proof of her allegations.

"The printouts of all these wiretaps made by Stepanova have been sent to me now. They say we should disqualify several more athletes," Mutko said.

"We said: ‘Stop! This is an illegal method of information gathering. If we have any information on anyone, we’ll deal with this issue ourselves. What do your films have to do with it? We have a powerful doping control system, which is constantly improving," the Russian sports minister said.

"RUSADA is an independent organization and spares none of the offenders. We have worked and will continue to work toughly. But when you specially want to find something, this is already an element of politics," Mutko said.

"All this could not but have its impact on our athletics," the sports minister said.

The sports minister’s statement comes amid fresh allegations of doping in international athletics, including Russian athletes.

The German television channel ARD aired a documentary on August 1, "Doping - Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics," which alleged that ARD and The Sunday Times had obtained a leaked database belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations, which contained more than 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes in the years 2001 to 2012.

ARD further alleged that a third of medals (146, including 55 golds) in endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests but none of these athletes have been stripped of their medals.

The Sunday Times also alleged that Russian athletes suspected of doping abuse had won 80% of medals for their country at Olympic Games and World Championships between 2001 and 2012.

Doping scandals with Russian athletes

Russia came into the focus of a doping scandal last December, when German television aired a series of documentaries on alleged doping abuse in Russian sports. The ARD’s two-part documentary, entitled Geheimsache Doping (Secret Doping Case), claimed that Russian athletes systematically took banned substances on instructions from their coaches.

The All-Russia Athletics Federation was further hit by a series of high-profile doping scandals starting this year. On January 30, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency RUSADA suspended country’s titled athletes Tatiana Chernova and Yulia Zaripova over doping abuse.

Runner Zaripova, a 2011 world athletics champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist, was disqualified for two years and six months from July 25, 2013. Chernova, a 2008 and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and 2011 world champion, was disqualified for two years from July 22, 2013.

RUSADA also announced in January that Olympic Champions in race walk Valery Borchin, Sergey Kirdyapkin and Olga Kaniskina as well as Russia’s 2011 World Champion Sergey Bakulin and 2011 World Championship silver medalist Vladimir Kanaikin were suspended after they were found guilty of violating anti-doping regulations.

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