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Sports minister: Early to speak of Moscow anti-doping lab’s work resumption

September 27, 14:15 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Russian sports minister says the WADA Independent Commission should fully complete its investigation
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Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko

© Sergei Fadeichev/TASS

MOSCOW, September 27. /TASS/. An issue of launching again the currently suspended work of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory can be raised only after the Independent Commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) closes its ongoing investigation, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Tuesday.

The WADA Independent Commission, chaired by Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren, released a report in July 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 process of reinstating the Moscow-based anti-doping laboratory in its rights had been halted following the report, while the Commission announced that the results were not final and the investigation continued.

"I believe that until the WADA Independent Commission fully completes its investigation, there can be no talks at all about the fully-operational work of the laboratory," Mutko said in an interview with TASS.

"In my opinion, the process of restoring it (the laboratory) in its rights can be launched only by the end of the year," the Russian sports minister added.

The Russian sports minister also told TASS that the state financing of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory never ceased.

"Some 50 laboratory experts continue working there and they are not guilty of anything," Mutko said. "Alleged manipulations can be only attributed to the former head of the laboratory (Rodchenkov) and his deputy (Timofey Sobolevsky), but you may well know that both Rodchenkov and Sobolevsky are currently residing in the United States."

"I can say that that the laboratory currently employs a perfect staff and is equipped in line with the cutting-edge standards," the sports minister said. "It will be bad if we lose it all."

The WADA Independent Commission launched its investigation following media reports earlier in the year which were based on a testimony from former head of Moscow anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov.

IOC should listen to Russian stance

Mutko went on to say that the IOC should take into account arguments presented by Russia while the Independent Commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency is holding its investigation.

"It is important that our arguments are taken into account by the IOC," Mutko said. "It is impossible carrying out an investigation without even listening to the side, which one is probing and this is not the way it can be."

"The McLaren-led Commission never turned to us (Russia) for explanations," Mutko said. "I hope the IOC will listen to Russia’s position and take it into account."

In an interview with Japan’s daily Yomiuri published on Monday, IOC President Thomas Bach said he still did not understand why the Russian Olympic team’s athletes were subjected to penalties ahead of the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil.

"Richard McLaren himself said that the investigation has not been finished yet," the daily quoted Bach as saying. "Before punishing, one should hear out the other side - the side of athletes. And this is what lacks in McLaren’s investigation."

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