Moscow - Russia's scandal-mired sports minister said on Tuesday that four more officials have been suspended over allegations of state-run doping as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) weighs banning the country from the Rio Games.
Vitaly Mutko told R-Sport news agency that his advisor Natalya Zhelanova, senior sporting officials Avak Abalyan and Irina Rodionova and Moscow anti-doping laboratory deputy head Yury Chizov were all temporarily suspended after being named in a bombshell report released on Monday (July 18).
A damning report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) detailed an elaborate cheating scheme run by the sports ministry that affected 30 sports with help from the Federal Security Service (FSB) state intelligence agency.
The Kremlin on Monday pledged to suspend all those implicated and deputy sports minister Yury Nagornykh - described as the point man for running the programme - became the first head to roll.
The WADA probe by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren quoted Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov as saying it was "inconceivable" that Mutko did not know about the whole doping system.
But the Kremlin has said that it is sticking by Mutko and he insisted that there "were not and cannot be any allegations directed against me".
"Everything the minister does is always connected only with the fight against doping," he told R-Sport.
In connection with the report, WADA also called on FIFA to investigate Mutko, a member of the football world body's executive, over drug failures in football.
While it found no smoking gun directly linking Mutko to the broader programme to protect drug cheats it said Mutko took the decision to cover up the doping case of a foreign player in the Russian football league.