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Mutko: Russia faces attempt to be slammed, but politics shouldn't be mixed up with sports

November 16, 2015, 8:48 UTC+3 MOSCOW
"It seemed that these Russians lost their leading positions, dropped to the second division and then, all of a sudden - Bang! - they are back with the leaders," the Russian sports minister notes
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Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko

© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, November 16. /TASS/. Pressure and sanctions on Russian sports now on the part of the Western press and various international organizations are a popular trend, but these attempts have nothing to do with sports, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said in an interview with TASS.

"They cannot understand how we began winning once again. It seemed that these Russians lost their leading positions, dropped to the second division and then, all of a sudden - Bang! - they are back with the leaders. It is quite obvious that not everyone likes it," Mutko said.

"Attempts to slam Russia are a popular trend and a way to demonstrate one’s toughness. But politics should not be mixed up with sports," he said.

 

WADA asked Russian sports minister to suspend doping suspects before report

According to the Russian Sports Minister, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has rejected the idea of the Russian Sports Ministry to give the rights of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) to the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

"I’ll take the situation at the ARAF under the toughest personal control. We will hold snap election and will be able to show a new face of the federation to the IAAF. As a matter of fact, I recently propose a radical move to President Sebastian Coe that we suspend the ARAF for six months ourselves and temporarily give its rights to the Russian Olympic Committee that will take track and field athletes to Rio," Mutko said.

"But the IAAF did not agree to this," he said.

The Independent Commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) asked Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko to suspend athletes suspected of doping violations even before the WADA report was published, Mutko told TASS in an interview.

Doping scandal in athletics

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission delivered on November 9 a report on its investigation into doping abuse allegations involving Russian athletes and recommended that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) suspend all athletes of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) from participation in international competitions.

This could deprive domestic athletes of the chance to take part in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. If the ARAF is disqualified, the IAAF will set conditions under which the Russian athletics federation will be able to take part in events under IAAF auspices again.

It also recommended on November 9 to ban for life five Russian athletes and five coaches over their involvement in doping abuse violations as well as to strip the Moscow anti-doping laboratory of its license and fire its director Grigory Rodchenkov in connection with numerous violations of anti-doping regulations.

The report claims former ARAF President Valentin Balakhnichev took bribes from athletes for covering up positive doping tests.

The IAAF Council on November 13 considered unconvincing the ARAF report on anti-doping efforts and ruled by the overwhelming majority of votes that the ARAF’s membership in the international organization should be suspended.

"Some time ago I received a notification saying that the WADA [Independent] Commission intended to publish its findings of the inspection it held since last year’s December in regard to Russian field and track athletes. I was asked to suspend all those involved in something illegal," Mutko said.

"I asked a logical question in response: Misters, based on what you want me to ban athletes? Fabricated wiretap recordings are not the proof. The initial cause to launch the investigation was a film of [German] television channel ARD. It alleged that an overwhelming majority of Russian medalists and winners of major tournaments over the past ten years had suspicious doping samples. What a massive allegation!" he said.

The WADA Independent Commission’s report was based on German TV channel ARD’s two-part documentary, entitled Geheimsache Doping (Secret Doping Case), which claimed that Russian athletes systematically took banned substances on instructions from their coaches.

The central characters in the documentary were Russian athlete Yulia Stepanova nd her husband Vitaly - former employee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), who accused the ARAF of being involved in doping distribution among athletes.

Mutko said Stepanoiva, who was herself found guilty of violating anti-doping regulations, could have been interested in collecting damaging information.

"Yulia Stepanova (Rusanova by maiden name), who was enlisted in the Russian athletics national team and whom we suspended for doping abuse, started working for WADA three years ago. Now she lives in Germany and, as far as we know, is waiting for Canada residence permit. I always trying to think well of people but there is a term "stool pigeon" in the anti-doping code," he said.

"Mrs. Stepanova assures that nobody hired her and she did everything on of her own initiative. But can you imagine a person paying own money to purchase cutting-edge eavesdropping and video surveillance equipment, which can be stealthily planted into a ladies handbag or any other personal belonging?" Mutko said.

"The question is why all this of specialized equipment was needed? It turned that that it was needed all that time to secretly record everything that was going on the Russian national team. Stepanova would ask coaches questions from a questionnaire somebody worked out of her and would engage her teammates in the so-called warm-hearted conversations. But in reality she would induce girls into confessions about their alleged use of doping and other prohibited substances," he said.

"Then some sort of specialists listened to the recordings and the tapes went further to ARD. The Germans made a two-part film. It appears to be documentary, but in reality it turned out to be a science-fiction with elements of a thriller. It gives an impression that Russia is rotten in doping abuse bordering on the government-authorized level and that I personally invite athletes to my office and manipulate them here. Understand?" Mutko said.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said November 9 commenting on the WADA Independent Commission’s report that allegations against Russian sportsmen over the massive use of doping performance enhancing drugs were groundless and not backed up by evidence so far.

The Russian Sports Ministry, in turn, advised WADA to focus on real facts during the investigation against Russian athletes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in June his deep disappointment with the rise of positive doping cases registered among Russian athletes and called to enhance the fight against the abuse of performance enhancing drugs.

Putin said at a meeting with athletes in Sochi on November 11 that it is necessary to fight doping in sports.

Richard Pound, the head of the WADA Independent Commission told a news conference on November 9 that the delivered report was only the first part and the final text of the investigation’s findings would be published by the end of the year.

The WADA Independent Commission was set up and began its work earlier following a series of German documentaries on the alleged mass use of performance enhancing drugs among Russia’s track and field athletes.

In December 2014 German TV Channel ARD 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.

On August 1 this year ARD released another documentary "Doping - Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics." The film claimed that ARD and British newspaper The Sunday Times had obtained a leaked database belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), 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.

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