MOSCOW • Russia's sports minister yesterday dismissed claims that four Russian gold medallists at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics were drug cheats.
The allegations - the latest in a string of doping accusations to rock Russian sport - are made by whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov, a former official with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada), in an upcoming edition of American channel CBS' 60 Minutes.
Hosts Russia won 13 gold medals at Sochi. A brief preview of the interview released by CBS reveals no names of suspected dope cheats.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, however, shrugged off the latest allegations as "speculation" and accused Stepanov of trying to tarnish the country's image.
"All his so-called revelations are based on speculation," Mutko told Russia's Tass news agency.
"What facts does he have, what lists, why has he decided to come out with the latest claims now?"
Stepanov and his wife, banned athlete Yuliya Stepanova, appeared in a German documentary claiming systematic doping in Russian athletics in 2014 - allegations later supported by a World Anti-Doping Agency independent commission which found evidence of "state-sponsored" doping and widespread corruption.
Stepanov tells 60 Minutes that Rodchenkov told him the doping activities he and his wife documented were the tip of an iceberg.
The International Association of Athletics Federations suspended Russia in November, with the IAAF council due to decide in June if the country's track and field team can compete in the Rio Olympics in August.
In the 60 Minutes programme, US Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart believes Russian athletics has not done enough to warrant reinstatement and Usada is "not in favour" of Russian athletes competing in Rio.
He added: "They can't come at the expense of clean athletes' rights."