MOSCOW (AFP) - The former head of Russia's anti-doping agency Rusada, Nikita Kamayev, who resigned last year over scandalous allegations of state-sanctioned doping, has died suddenly, the agency said on Monday.
"The Rusada former executive director died suddenly at the age of 52," Rusada said in a statement. "The cause is presumed to be a massive heart attack."
"It is a great loss and unexpected for us," the Russian anti-doping agency's interim general director Anna Antseliovich, who took charge after the scandal, told R-Sport news agency.
Kamayev, who resigned as Rusada's executive director in December, died after feeling ill while skiing, the former general director of the anti-doping agency, Ramil Khabriyev told Tass news agency earlier on Monday.
He had said Kamayev's age was 50.
"I never heard before that he had heart problems. Maybe his wife knew about some problems," Khabriyev said.
Kamayev had resigned along with three other Rusada top officials after a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) independent commission accused Russia of routine violations of testing standards and allowing suspended athletes to compete.
Both Rusada and Moscow's anti-doping laboratory were suspended over the bombshell report.
Rusada in its statement praised Kamayev as "an experienced and understanding manager" who "managed to create a friendly atmosphere among staff".
Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Kamayev "stood at the origins of the anti-doping organisation in Russia, he created it".
"We greatly regret his death," he added.
The officials resigned after President Vladimir Putin called for Russian officials, trainers and athletes to take responsibility for engaging in or abetting doping.
Kamayev had served as Rusada's acting director since 2011.
His death came as inspectors from the world athletics' governing body IAAF were due to start a two-day visit to Russia to evaluate anti-doping efforts following a ban for Russian athletes from international competition over the claims.
Kamayev had initially responded defiantly to the Wada report released in November, branding the suspension of Moscow's anti-doping laboratory "utter nonsense" and ridiculing the allegations as reminiscent of "the epoch of James Bond".
"I have a holster, a pistol, and every day I go to the basements of Lubyanka," he scoffed to journalists in November, using the informal name for the KGB/FSB security service headquarters building in central Moscow.