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Russian athlete files defamation lawsuit over German TV channel ARD allegations

October 24, 2016, 18:37 UTC+3 MOSCOW

A series of documentaries on alleged doping abuse in Russian sports was aired by German TV Channel ARD in December 2014

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© AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

MOSCOW, October 24. /TASS/. The Dorogomilovsky Court of Moscow is set to hold hearings on November 11 on a lawsuit on the protection of honor and dignity of Russian runner Kristina Ugarova, who insists that German TV channel ARD aired slander against her, athlete’s lawyer Alexander Karabanov told TASS on Monday.

"The court hearings regarding Kristina Ugarova’s lawsuit on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation will be held at the Dorogomilovsky Court of Moscow," Karabanov said in an interview with TASS.

Ugarova told TASS that her interview, played in one of the parts of the German series of documentaries, directed by Hajo Seppelt, was misinterpreted.

"I will certainly attend the hearings and will hold the floor," Ugarova said in an interview with TASS. "I was speaking about one matter in the recording used by ARD, but the translation used (in the film) voiced another matter."

"In other words, the authors of the film made their own conjectures about what I actually was speaking about, which is a direct violation," she said. "In case our lawsuit is satisfied in Moscow, we will be turning to international courts."

Russian ex-doping official Vitaly Stepanov and his wife, Russian runner Yulia Stepanova, were in the center of a series of documentaries on alleged doping abuse in Russian sports aired by German TV Channel ARD in December 2014.

The ARD’s first 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, 2015, 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, 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.

On March 6, Seppelt premiered the third part of his documentaries, entitled "Doping Top Secret: Russia's Red Herrings." In that episode he claimed that the Russian athletics authorities were not taking sufficient steps to clean the sports from doping.

The fourth and most recent part of the German journalist’s documentaries on the allegedly widespread doping abuse in Russia was broadcast in Mat and was titled "Doping Secret: Showdown for Russia."

The series of German documentaries prompted a reaction from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which ruled early last year to set up an independent body to investigate the issue.

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