Doping: Kremlin warns Russia will treat all baseless allegations as slander

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has been quoted as saying that Russia will treat all unfounded allegations of doping against its sportspeople as slander.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has been quoted as saying that Russia will treat all unfounded allegations of doping against its sportspeople as slander.PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW/BERLIN (REUTERS) - Russia will treat all unfounded allegations of doping against its sportspeople as slander, the RIA news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Wednesday.

Referring to genuine doping cases which have already been proven, he said: "All this does not mean that we are ready to accept any unfounded allegations, any unsubstantiated accusations."

Any new wider allegations not underpinned by hard evidence would be treated as "absolute slander", added Peskov.

The warning came after Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko's comments that the new doping allegations from German broadcaster ARD/WDR were aimed at influencing a ruling by the International Athletics Federation on Russia's suspension from world athletics, Interfax news agency reported.

The public broadcaster said earlier on Wednesday that Mr Mutko is directly implicated in the scandal over doping by Russia's sportsmen and women.

The Sports Ministry, in a statement replying to the charge, did not directly address the allegations against him and other state officials. Mr Mutko could not be reached for comment.

ARD/WDR, whose reports on systematic Russian doping have led to a widespread investigation and the suspension of their track and field athletes, made its latest charge in a documentary to be broadcast later on Wednesday.

It said it had documents showing Mr Mutko had prevented the release of a positive doping test involving a footballer from Russia's top league.

The broadcaster also said it had footage of coaches, banned for life for doping, continuing to train top athletes.

"The Taskforce of the International Athletics Federation (IAAF), which had been presented with the research results for this film... informed us...that the research was a 'very serious matter' as well as a 'matter of urgency' and represented a 'grave concern'," ARD/WDR said in a statement on the programme.

The Russian Sports Ministry said in its statement that it understood that doping was a large-scale global problem. "Solving it requires a consolidation of efforts aimed at a continuous improvement of the anti-doping system by all interested parties," it said.

It said it had agreed on a road map with the World Anti-Doping Agency to reform its structure directly involved in doping offences.

Russia was suspended from world athletics in November 2015 after an international investigation uncovered damning evidence of widespread doping and corruption.

It is trying to convince the sports authorities it is serious about rooting out cheats, as it waits to hear on June 17 whether its track and field stars will be allowed to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.