Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged there were “instances of doping use in Russia,” however, he also suggested the issue was widespread and that his country was targeted specifically.
While addressing his supporters in Moscow, Putin said, “There were instances of doping use, true — I want the audience to know this and the whole country to know this.”
The Russian president did not talk about the accusations against his government’s alleged involvement in the doping practices. Instead, he went on to add, “There are many such examples around the world, but no one is making a big show of it.”
Russian athletes were banned last year by the International Olympic Committee from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. It all happened after the confirmation of doping by Russian athletes during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Interestingly, Putin’s statement comes just a day after the IOC confirmed that 169 Russian athletes — who have a doping-free background — will compete at the Winter Olympics. The athletes cleared by IOC will not participate as a Russian-designated team in the event but under the neutral tag of “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”
The doping scandal was exposed by a whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, who was elected as the director of anti-doping center in 2006. The evidence provided by him led to the McLaren report — an independent assessment by Canadian attorney Richard McLaren — that substantiated Russia’s systematic violation of drug-testing during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. More than 1,000 Russian summer and winter Olympic athletes reportedly benefited from state-sponsored doping.
Last November, the findings of the McLaren Report were confirmed by the World Anti-Doping Agency. All testing data between January 2012 and August 2018 at the Moscow Laboratory was obtained for analysis by WADA.
Russia flatly rejected allegations of government-sponsored doping at several occasions.
Rob Harris, a sports writer from Associated Press, quoted Putin in a tweet that read, “We have never had a doping problem in Russia. This is just impossible, unthinkable. We will never do anything like that.”
The federal committee of Russia tasked with investigation of the doping scandal also refuted the allegations compiled by WADA saying it “lacked any evidence of Russia's guilt in the mass use of doping by athletes.”
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters/Jim Young/File Photo
Banner Credits: Reuters/Aleksey Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin