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Russia never had state-controlled doping support system — Putin

The president stresses WADA work must be transparent

MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/. Russia never had and will never have a state-controlled system for the support of performance enhancing drugs abuse in sports, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

"Russia never had such system, this is simply impossible and we will be doing everything possible to prevent," Putin said during his annual news conference. "There must never be such thing as state system for doping support."

'The Russian Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General’s Office are investigating all possible instances of doping abuse and will definitely come up with the results in the end," Putin said, adding that WADA work should be transparent.

"I am confident that the activities of any anti-doping agency, including WADA, should be transparent, clear and verifiable, and we should be aware of the results of its work," he said.

"Why everything is done behind the closed doors? We do not understand this," he said. "Everything must be open."

Putin also said that the element of political interference in sports must be excluded just like in the sphere of culture, since "there is a certain geopolitical element in both of these spheres."

"We need to make sports, just like culture, clean of any politics," Putin said. "Sport is like culture and they must be uniting people and not dividing them."The Russian president said, however, that the problem of doping does exist in Russian sports, just like in any other country.

"Just like in any other country we do have the problem of doping in sports," Putin said. "We must acknowledge it and by doing so we need to do everything possible to eradicate this problem."

Foreign instructions

Putin did not rule out WADA's whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov had been working for long on foreign instructions. "It (Rodchenkov's behavior) makes me think, somebody there (abroad) was instructing him," he said.

Putin said, Rodchenkov had fled abroad and now "hands over everything there," and quite possibly even invents something in addition. "I already cannot remember the last name of the person who ran away," the president said, adding before working in Moscow Rodchenkov lived in Canada, "used to come to Russia to bring in here all sort of junk."

Putin continued saying he could barely imagine how that man could smuggle smoothly the banned substances across the Canadian or American border. "He was smuggling in here all that junk all the time," he said. "He made it his own business, made people take it (doping)."

"And later on, once they started tightening the screws on him he absconded," the president said, adding at a certain stage Rodchenckov will receive assistance there abroad, and "later on, like it is done with any scoundrel - they will simply drop him."

This spring, Rodchenkov told Western media that Russian athletes largely used performance enhancing drugs at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi with the approval from the national sports authorities.

In an interview with New York Times, published in mid-May, Rodchenkov claimed that an unnamed official from the Russian Sports Ministry used sending him lists of national athletes, whose doping samples he had to swap during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Rodchenkov also said that he developed a special cocktail consisting of three banned doping substances intended for the national athletes at home Games two years ago.