Russia's Putin: We back investigations into doping allegations

Fri May 20, 2016 11:28am EDT
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By Denis Dyomkin

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russia supports investigations into allegations of widespread doping in sport, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, but he said he hoped the focus on Russia was not politically-motivated.

Dozens of Russian sports people risk being excluded from international competitions, including this summer's Olympics in Rio, after whistle blowers alleged there was a systematic doping programme operating for years in Russian sport.

Asked at a news conference how he viewed calls for samples submitted by competitors at past competitions to be re-tested for banned substances, Putin said: "Positively. If there are any doubts, then they need to be excluded."

"Sport should be free from any kind of doping. It should be an honest battle."

Putin said Russia was keenly aware of recent media reports about doping.

That appeared to be a reference to allegations made last week by Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of Russia's sports anti-doping laboratory, that there was a sophisticated state-backed scheme to cover up the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Putin said Russia would cooperate with investigations into those allegations which are being conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency, known as WADA.

"But this wave (of investigations into doping) is taking place against a backdrop of politically-motivated restrictions towards our country. I hope that the actions of WADA are not connected in any way to that," Putin said.   Continued...

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi, Russia, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov/Pool