Russians threaten legal action over 'slanderous claims'

Fri Dec 5, 2014 4:15pm EST
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By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian Athletics Federation may take legal action after German TV alleged widespread doping and cover-ups among the country's track and field competitors, according to the president of the organization.

"The federation believe the documentary was a provocation aimed at discrediting Russian sport," Valentin Balakhnichev said in a statement on Friday.

"After watching the documentary we immediately began to doubt how authentic and believable the material they edited was.

We see this film ... as a planned attempt to create an ugly scandal within Russian athletics and Russian sport in general.

"We are looking at all our options to defend our rights. If it is possible under Russian and German law we will take the appropriate legal action for the slanderous allegations made against us," said Balakhnichev.

The hour-long German program, broadcast by ZDF/ARD on Wednesday, featured an undercover video of what it said were Russian athletes and coaches admitting to covering up positive tests.

The video, which has not been seen or verified by Reuters, also alleges corruption and a systematic doping issue among Russian athletes and high-ranking officials.

"One hears claims by five people whose statements are hardly credible," added Balakhnichev.   Continued...