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Russian sports official comments on report accusing Russia of covering up doping abuse

July 18, 18:48 UTC+3 MOSCOW
According to the secretary general of the All-Russia Athletics Federation, the report will create an unfavorable atmosphere ahead of hearings on the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) lawsuit at CAS
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Secretary general of the ARAF Mikhail Butov

Secretary general of the ARAF Mikhail Butov

© Alexandr Sherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, July 18. /TASS/. The World Anti-Doping Agency’s report on a probe into accusations of doping abuse at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games will create an unfavorable atmosphere ahead of hearings at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) lawsuit challenging the decision of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to ban Russian track and field athletes from the Rio 2016 Olympics, secretary general of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) Mikhail Butov said on Monday.

Earlier in the day, the Independent Commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chaired by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren released a report on the results of a probe into the accusations of doping and manipulation of tests by Russian athletes and officials at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. The report’s findings accuse Russia of having a state-sponsored doping system.

"Obviously, McLaren’s report will create an unfavorable atmosphere ahead of the CAS hearings tomorrow. But today we are focused on efforts to win the right to our athletes to take part in the Olympic Games. Topics highlighted in McLaren’s report are not related to our lawsuit. As you know, the lawsuit is about different things - it challenges the IAAF’s criteria on admitting for the 2016 Olympics," Butov said.

Three-time Olympic figure skating champion and member of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) Irina Rodnina believes the report is another tool to exert pressure on Russia.

"It’s a general trend. McLaren’s report is akin to the restrictions imposed on Russia in terms of trade, politics and individuals," Rodnina said. "There is a strong external pressure on Russia. McLaren’s report was presented just a few days before the Rio Olympics - this is done on purpose as well. Now everything will depend on the decision of the International Olympic Committee."

At the same time, Rodnina said the problems that exist in the Russian sports should not be ignored. ""We have to admit that the work of our anti-doping laboratory was very weak and totally classified. We must understand that the Federal Biomedical Agency is affiliated to the Ministry of Health, it’s not part of the Sports Ministry, which means that the situation is uncontrollable," she said. "Yes, we made a lot of mistakes, and we need to handle our own mistakes, first and foremost, rather than say that everyone lashes out against us, and we are so nice and squeaky clean. We do have problems we need to cope with, but that does not mean that we should turn the other cheek."

On June 17, the IAAF Council ruled it is too early to re-grant membership to ARAF and suspended Russian athletes from all international tournaments, including the 2016 Olympic Games. Later, the IAAF’s anti-doping department rejected applications from all Russian athletes for participation in international competitions, including the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, except for long jump athlete Darya Klishina, who is trained outside Russia. The CAS will hear Russia’s lawsuit on July 19.

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