Athletics: Russia gets tough on drugs with opening of new anti-doping centre

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko speaks during a news conference at a hotel in Moscow, Thursday, Aug 8, 2013. Mr Mutko on Friday opened a new anti-doping centre in the grounds of Moscow's physical culture and sports research institute, a day befo
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko speaks during a news conference at a hotel in Moscow, Thursday, Aug 8, 2013. Mr Mutko on Friday opened a new anti-doping centre in the grounds of Moscow's physical culture and sports research institute, a day before the world athletics championships opens in the Russian capital. -- PHOTO: AP 

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko on Friday opened a new anti-doping centre in the grounds of Moscow's physical culture and sports research institute, a day before the world athletics championships opens in the Russian capital.

The sincerity of the hosts' battle against doping will be under the spotlight after several top Russian athletes tested positive in the run-up to the event.

"The Russian Federation is one of the world's main sporting centres. It has tremendous traditions," Mr Mutko told reporters before the start of the championships, which get under way on Saturday.

"Doping is a serious problem for the entire sports world and Russia plays an important role in the struggle with doping. What we've done in the last four years has taken other countries decades to do.

"We are doing everything possible to make Russian sport a full member of the world sports family."

The new anti-doping centre is the country's only laboratory to have received accreditation from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and was developed as part of preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The anti-doping centre will be able to test more than 18,000 samples a year. A special sub-laboratory will also test racehorse samples.