Rus­sia blasts NYT dop­ing ‘con­spir­acy’ re­port

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Rus­sia yes­ter­day blasted a re­port in The New York Times that of­fi­cials have ac­knowl­edged a mas­sive sports dop­ing con­spir­acy, reit­er­at­ing claims there was no gov­ern­ment in­volve­ment. The New York Times re­ported Tues­day that the act­ing di­rec­tor gen­eral of Rus­sia’s scan­dal-mired na­tional an­ti­dop­ing agency had “for the first time” con­ceded of­fi­cials con­ducted the pro­gramme to cheat. “It was an in­sti­tu­tional con­spir­acy,” Anna Antse­liovich, was re­ported as telling the US news­pa­per in an ar­ti­cle date­lined from Moscow. Antse­liovich and oth­ers in­ter­viewed con­tin­ued to re­ject the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the dop­ing scheme as “state-spon­sored,” telling the Times that top gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials were not in­volved. But Moscow later slammed the ar­ti­cle, with anti-dop­ing agency RUSADA in­sist­ing that Antse­liovich’s words were “dis­torted and taken out of con­text”.

The New York Times re­porter “took th­ese words out of con­text, cre­at­ing the im­pres­sion that RUSADA’s lead­er­ship had ad­mit­ted to an in­sti­tu­tional sys­tem of a dop­ing cover-up in Rus­sia,” the agency said in a state­ment. “We want to un­der­line that RUSADA does not and can­not have the author­ity to ad­mit or deny such facts,” it said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tor Richard McLaren said in a new re­port for the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency (WADA) this month that more than 1,000 Rus­sian ath­letes in some 30 sports took part in a plan for Moscow sports min­istry of­fi­cials to use banned drugs at the 2014 Sochi Win­ter Olympics, the 2012 Lon­don Sum­mer Games and other global events. Rus­sia has ad­mit­ted that it had a prob­lem with dop­ing but in­sists that there is no proof there was a state-or­ches­trated pro­gramme to cheat, a dogged de­nial that crit­ics say means Moscow will never tackle the is­sue. The Krem­lin re­peated ear­lier re­jec­tions of al­le­ga­tions of state in­volve­ment in dop­ing, while also cast­ing doubt on the lat­est re­port in The New York Times. “From the very be­gin­ning we have de­nied any in­volve­ment by the state or state in­sti­tu­tions or ser­vices or agen­cies in the pos­si­ble use of dop­ing by sports­men,” Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told jour­nal­ists.

‘SHOCKED BY REV­E­LA­TIONS’

The ac­cu­sa­tions by Mclaren in his last re­port were another body blow to Rus­sian sport, which was still try­ing to shrug off the dam­age from his ini­tial find­ings and the ex­clu­sion of its track and field ath­letes from in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

The af­fair re­ver­ber­ated through the 2016 Rio Olympics and has con­tin­ued to be felt as win­ter sports events such as next year’s bob­sleigh and skele­ton world cham­pi­onships and biathlon and speed skat­ing World Cup stops have been with­drawn from the coun­try.

McLaren, a Cana­dian lawyer, is­sued his first re­port in July, de­tail­ing an elab­o­rate scheme to ma­nip­u­late drug tests at the 2014 Sochi Games and say­ing it in­volved the Rus­sian sports min­istry and FSB se­cu­rity ser­vice. “Ms. Antse­liovich, who has not been di­rectly im­pli­cated in the in­ves­ti­ga­tions, said she was shocked by the rev­e­la­tions,” the Times wrote. “She and oth­ers em­pha­sized that the gov­ern­ment’s top of­fi­cials were not in­volved.”

And Vi­taly Smirnov, the 81-year-old vet­eran sports of­fi­cial drafted this year by Rus­sian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin to over­see re­forms, was less than con­cil­ia­tory in his com­ments to the news­pa­per. “From my point of view, as a for­mer min­is­ter of sport, pres­i­dent of Olympic com­mit­tee - we made a lot of mis­takes,” the Times quoted Smirnov as say­ing.

But he also re­ferred to the rev­e­la­tions of ther­a­peu­tic use ex­emp­tions (TUE) that al­lowed some high pro­file West­ern ath­letes in an ar­ray of sports to use banned drugs-which came out via doc­u­ments hacked by the “Fancy Bear” group.

Smirnov in­di­cated he be­lieved the doc­u­ments showed West­ern com­peti­tors re­ceived fa­vor­able treat­ment from global anti-dop­ing au­thor­i­ties. “Rus­sia never had the op­por­tu­ni­ties that were given to other coun­tries,” he told the news­pa­per. “The gen­eral feel­ing in Rus­sia is that we didn’t have a chance.”

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