Athletics: Russia will continue fight with doping: minister

MOSCOW (AFP) - Sports minister Vitaly Mutko said on Wednesday that Russia's top authorities will continue the battle with doping that resulted in a series of recent scandals involving the country's top athletes.

"Russia has always been and will always be the country which seriously and consistently battles with doping," the Allsport news agency quoted him as saying.

"In the last four years we've done a great amount of work in this sphere including the country's legislation changes and creation of the country's anti-doping agency Rusada.

"We've appropriated huge funds for the battle with doping and we're set to continue. In the near future we will launch an educational programme for schoolchildren to inform them about the hazardous effects of doping from an early age."

Mr Mutko added that he believed that the series of bans against top athletes for doping has come to an end.

"There's a list of top athletes who are under IAAF (International Athletics Federation) suspicion of dope cheating," the minister said.

"We've done our part of the work: banned all of our suspects. It was very upsetting to ban our top athletes but we had no other choice.

"Now we're waiting for the other countries' action in this direction."

The series of recent doping scandals in the country's athletics has already forced national head coach Valentin Maslakov to resign.

Earlier this week Russian Athletics Federation chief Valentin Balakhnichev also confirmed he will resign from the post later this month at the federation executive board meeting.

Last month, Olympic steeplechase champion Yulia Zaripova and three Olympic champions in walking - Sergei Kirdyapkin, Olga Kaniskina and Valery Borchin - were all banned by Rusada for having abnormal indexes of haematological profiles in their biological passports.

Russian heptathlete Tatiana Chernova, the London Olympics bronze medallist, and 2011 world champion in the 50km walk Sergei Bakulin, were also suspended along with Vladimir Kanaikin, who was banned for life for a repeat offence, having served a two-year ban in 2008-10.