LONDON (Reuters) - Vladimir Putin’s favorite sport of judo is not in danger of becoming embroiled in the doping scandals rocking Russian sport in the run up to this year’s Rio Olympics, international federation head Marius Vizer said on Tuesday.
Speaking hours after the Russian Wrestling Federation (WFR) revealed ‘tens’ of cases of doping, Vizer said he did not expect any nasty surprises to emerge in the modern martial art.
“We are not afraid because judo has specific values and in the field of integrity our sport is paying a lot of attention,” the Romanian told Reuters at a SportsPro business conference at London’s Wembley stadium.
“We don’t have in the last years any kind of doping cases with Russian athletes and I consider our sport safe among the other sports,” he added.
Russia’s national coach is the 1980 Moscow Olympic champion Ezio Gamba, who represented Italy at four successive Summer Games. Russian president Putin is a judo black belt and has sparred in the past with Gamba and the national team.
Russian sport was thrown into turmoil last year when a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) exposed endemic cheating and corruption in Russian athletics.
Four Russian track-and-field athletes were exposed as having tested positive for the banned drug meldonium on Monday, further damaging Moscow’s efforts to overturn a doping suspension in time for the Olympics starting on Aug. 5.
The drug, which is used to treat diabetes and low magnesium levels, was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Jan. 1 after being linked to increased sporting performance.
Vizer said it had not been detected so far in any anti-doping controls in judo.
“It would surprise me (if any judoka tested positive for it). I think it’s not the case and I hope it will not happen,” he said.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by Ken Ferris