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Russian sport minister apologizes for athletes over doping scandal

May 15, 13:28 UTC+3 LONDON
"We are very sorry because Russia is committed to upholding the highest standards in sport and is opposed to anything that threatens the Olympic values," the minister wrote
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Vitaliy Mutko

Vitaliy Mutko

© TASS

LONDON, May 15. /TASS/. Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has apologized for the Russian athletes "who have cheated" over the doping scandal and made arguments for allowing Russian sportsmen to participate in this summer’s Rio Olympics in his article in The Sunday Times.

"We are very sorry that athletes who tried to deceive us, and the world, were not caught sooner. We are very sorry because Russia is committed to upholding the highest standards in sport and is opposed to anything that threatens the Olympic values," the minister wrote.

According to Mutko, "the reasons for the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) being suspended from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) have been well documented. They are weighty." "Serious mistakes have been made by the federation management, along with athletes and coaches who have broken anti-doping rules and neglected the principle of fair play, so fundamental to sport for immediate benefits. Let us be clear. We are ashamed of them," he said.

However, "it cannot be right that clean athletes should suffer for the behavior of others," Mutko wrote. "We do not deny having a problem in Russia, and we are doing everything possible at the state level to eradicate doping, including punishing athletes and coaches found to have violated anti-doping rules. But doping is a global problem, not just a Russian one," he said.

The doping scandal with Russian athletes erupted in December 2014 after the German TV Channel ARD aired a documentary entitled Geheimsache Doping (Secret Doping Case). The documentary said 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 RUSADA (the Russian Anti-Doping Agency). After the documentary was aired by the German TV channel, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) set up a commission to investigate the case.

The commission accused certain athletes and sports officials of doping abuse and involvement in other activities related to violations of international regulations on performance enhancing substances.

The International Association of Athletics Federations said at its Council meeting in November that a report prepared by the All-Russian Athletics Federation on the struggle against doping was unsatisfactory and decided by a majority of votes to suspend Russia’s membership in the international athletics association. Russian athletes have been suspended from all IAAF competition and hence they may have to skip the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The final decision on that matter will be taken later in May.

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