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PM Medvedev: Doping accusations against Russia resemble ‘endless anti-Russian soap opera’

The Russian prime minister added that a problem of consumption of banned performance enhancing drugs in Russia exists but this situation is unacceptable in sports

MOSCOW, December 5. /TASS/. Continuous doping abuse accusations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against Russian sports look like an ‘endless anti-Russian soap opera,’ Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Russian television channels on Thursday.

"Everything that is connected with a doping scandal reminds me already of an endless anti-Russian soap opera as they have made a decision, introduced punishments and declared suspensions," Medvedev said.

"A bit later, something itched again and they decided — let’s look once again at the very same lists, reanalyze the very same samples to see if we have missed something and we will punish again those, who have been already punished, and in some cases we will also expand the responsibility to  other athletes, regardless of their innocence," the Russian prime minister stated.

Medvedev added that a decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency on possible sanctions regarding Russian sports "will be very tough for our country."

The Russian prime minister pointed out that a problem of consumption of banned performance enhancing drugs in Russia exists but this situation is unacceptable in sports.

"Is there a doping problem here [in Russia]? Yes, there is," Medvedev said in an interview with Russian television channels on Thursday. "Obviously, this is totally unacceptable regarding common approaches to the development of sports in the modern world."

"However, I have issued instructions to our sports authorities, the Sports Ministry and other relevant bodies to stand fighting for our interests and the interests of all athletes to provide for their participation in international tournaments," Medvedev added.

The Russian prime minister went on to say that Russia must continue stepping up its fight against the abuse of performance enhancing drugs in sports.

"Are the rest of countries pure and innocent? This is what is the most annoying here, as we all know well about all of these cases [of doping abuse in other countries], but for some reason they are hiding these cases under a table and always come up with full-fledged assaults against us," he said. "It is crystal clear that the whole situation is linked with the global political situation, but, nevertheless we must carry on with our work [on the fight against doping]."

Medvedev said that personal sanctions should be toughened regarding athletes, who opt for cheating by consuming banned substances.

"On the whole, this is a responsibility of an athlete and it is up to him or her to make a final decision," he said. "I believe that we need to assume a tougher position on this issue in regard to everyone. who makes a decision to consume [banned] substances. It should be understood that the final responsibility rests with an athlete and his doctor."

The world’s governing anti-doping body announced on September 23 that it had initiated a probe into the compliance status of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) with the Code of the organization based on the inconsistencies discovered in the data from the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory.

On November 25, the WADA CRC reiterated its previous recommendation for the world anti-doping body’s Executive Committee (ExCo) to strip RUSADA (the Russian Anti-Doping Agency) of its compliance status and came up with a recommendation of additional sanctions against Russian sports.

Among the recommended sanctions, the CRC suggested barring Russia from all international sports competitions, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games, for a four-year period. The Committee also issued a recommendation to deprive Russia of the right to host international sports events during this period. The WADA Executive Committee will pass a final decision on Russia at its meeting on December 9 in Paris.

The WADA Executive Committee reinstated the compliance status of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency on September 20, 2018 on condition that before December 31, 2018 WADA experts would be granted access to doping samples at the Moscow Anti-Doping Lab, which was sealed off in connection with a federal investigation.

Specialists from WADA were granted access to the database of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory in January this year and copied 24 terabytes of information on Russian athletes’ doping samples collected between 2012 and 2015. WADA experts finished their work to retrieve doping samples from the Moscow Lab on April 30 having collected 2,262 doping samples in 4,524 containers (Samples A and B).