Athletics: Putin pledges 'independent' anti-doping system

Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting dedicated to the Winter Universiade 2019 in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, on March 1, 2017.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting dedicated to the Winter Universiade 2019 in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, on March 1, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

Moscow (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday pledged to establish an "independent" system to tackle doping in the country, but insisted again that the state had never run a drug cheating programme.

"We are creating a new system of fighting against doping," Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agency TASS in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk.

"We will transfer this system from the sports ministry to an independent organisation, as has been done in many countries in the world," he said, adding a new laboratory would be built in the grounds of the famed Moscow State University.

Russia has been scrambling to reform since a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) inquiry revealed evidence of state-sponsored drug cheating that saw its athletics team and entire Paralympics squad sidelined from the 2016 Rio Games.

Putin admitted that Russia's previous anti-doping system was ineffective but denied outright the existence of a state-run doping programme in the country.

"The system of anti-doping control which has existed until now didn't work," Putin added.

"This is our fault and we should acknowledge it.

"But I'd like to stress once again that there has never been, is not and I hope will never be any state-run doping programme in Russia."