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Russia to resort to all legal tools protecting national athletes — Kremlin

July 18, 2016, 13:31 UTC+3

Russian presidential spokesman refuses to comment recent publications about a number of countries allegedly insisting on introducing a blanket ban for Russian athletes

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Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov

© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, July 18. /TASS/. Russia will resort to all legal tools protecting interests of Russian athletes, who are currently facing a possible blanket ban from participation in the 2016 Summer Olympics next month, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

"There is definitely a wide range of legal means to protect interests of our athletes and Russia will certainly resort to this arsenal using it in full," President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman told journalists commenting on accusations of Russia of anti-doping violations and recent media reports on alleged demands on banning the whole national team from the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.

Peskov refused from commenting on media reports that a number of countries allegedly insisted on introducing a blanket ban for Russian athletes ahead of the official report on the investigation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), due to be delivered later in the day.

"As for the recent publications, I would rather refuse from making any comments on it, since it is extremely important issue, where one should not be basing on newspaper reports," Peskov said.

Peskov said that "traditionally the Kremlin had been firmly and consistently standing against the politicization of sports," but at the same time, as President Putin repeatedly stated, the Kremlin "is absolutely against the doping abuse in sports."

"We view the fight against doping abuse as our priority," Peskov said. "At the same time the Kremlin believes that as much those found guilty of doping abuse must be deservedly punished, so much it will be unjust to resort to any sort of sanctions in regard to clean athletes, who have the full right performing under the national flag of their country."

Later on Monday, the WADA Independent Commission, chaired by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, will release a report on alleged anti-doping violations, presumably supervised at a government level, by Russia as it hosted the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

The report will be crucial for the whole Russian national Olympic squad, which is currently in full preparations for the 2016 Olympics, due to kick off in August. President of the European Olympic Committee (EOC) Patrick Hickey, as well as some foreign media sources, announced last week that a letter calling to introduce a blanket ban for Russian athletes had been sent to a number of sports organizations and federations as well as sports officials.

Two months ago in an interview with US-based New York Times daily former head of Moscow anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov stated that the Russian sports authorities allegedly prepared a special doping program for national athletes in order to win most of the medals at home Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. Rodchenkov added that some Russian Olympic gold medalists in Sochi took banned substances.

The Russian Olympic team finished the 2014 Olympics in Sochi in the first place of the medals standings with the overall result of 33 won medals (13 gold, 11 silver and 9 bronze medals) surpassing its previous Winter Olympics record of 11 gold medals, set at the 1994 Winter Games in Norway’s Lillehammer.

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