International Athletics

Russians admit wrongdoing in doping scandal

2015-11-12 19:12
Vitaly Mutko (AP)

Moscow - With an Olympic boycott ruled out, Russia is planning to at least partially admit it has a doping problem.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told The Associated Press on Thursday that there will "not in any case" be a boycott of next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

A short time later in a separate interview, the acting president of the Russian track federation told the AP he is ready to own up to some of the charges levelled in the World Anti-Doping Agency commission's massive report on doping in the country.

"We admit some things, we argue with some things, some are already fixed, it's a variety," said Vadim Zelichenok, declining to provide further details. "It's not for the press."

The governing body of track and field is expected to rule Friday on whether to suspend Russia from competition because of the doping scandal. If Russia is banned, the country's track and field team could be excluded from next year's Olympics.

Monday's damning report by the WADA commission recommended that the Russian track federation be suspended, saying its athletes and officials were involved in "extensive" use of performance-enhancing drugs, obstructed doping tests and helped to cover up drug use. The report said Zelichenok "refused to cooperate" with investigators.

Even if Russia's track and field team is banned, Mutko told the AP that the country has no intention of boycotting the Olympics.

"Russia is against a boycott. Russia is against political interference in sport," Mutko said. "Understand that Russia is a dependable partner of the international Olympic movement."

Mutko also appealed for Russia's track team to be allowed to compete, arguing that a blanket ban would unfairly punish clean athletes.

"It will be painful for those athletes with clean consciences who could compete, that's the first thing. And the second thing is that it goes against the spirit of the WADA code," Mutko said. "The commission itself writes about it in its report. It's about protecting the athletes with clean consciences."

During the Cold War, the United States and allies boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics in protest at the Soviet Union. Four years later, there was a Soviet-led boycott of the Olympics in Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted clean athletes should be allowed to compete and asked Russian sports officials to carry out an internal investigation into the allegations made in the doping report. Mutko said Russia would provide constant updates about its investigation.

"Practically every day, at the end of the day, we release some kind of information message about the steps we're taking and we will continue to do that," Mutko said. "We're prepared to inform international society about the steps we're taking, the investigation, the decisions."

In one move, the Russian Olympic Committee asked former Russian track federation president Valentin Balakhnichev to resign from its executive board. The WADA commission's report said Balakhnichev was "ultimately responsible" for doping and cover-ups at the federation during his tenure and linked him to instances in which money was allegedly extorted from athletes.

The Russian government has consistently slammed the report for what it says is a lack of evidence. Mutko said there was an over reliance on confidential sources and condemned the inclusion of material from undercover recordings made by whistle blowers, which he said violated the rights of those accused of doping.

The scandal also entered the arena of international diplomacy as the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a stinging critique of the report's authors.

"The position of the special commission on doping with regards to Russian athletes looks extremely biased, politicized," ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in her weekly briefing, adding that sources cited in the report seem "extremely doubtful."

Read more on:    iaaf  |  vitaly mutko  |  athletics

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

How much of a runner are you?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.