Allegations attempt to soil country’s image: Russia Sports Minister

Calls for Russia to be excluded from the 2016 Olympics over doping allegations is aimed at tarnishing the country's image, Russia's sports minister said Wednesday. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission had released a 335-page report two days ago, outlining "state-supported" doping in Russian athletics and large-scale corruption.

“This possibility exists because some benefit from removing a direct competitor, and others benefit from soiling the country's image,” Vitaly Mutko said.   -  AP (File Photo)

Calls for Russia to be excluded from the 2016 Olympics over doping allegations is aimed at tarnishing the country's image, Russia's sports minister said Wednesday, ahead of a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

“This possibility exists because some benefit from removing a direct competitor, and others benefit from soiling the country's image,” Vitaly Mutko told RIA Novosti state news agency, adding that honest Russian athletes should not have to suffer because of “those who break some rules”.

A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission released a 335-page report on Monday outlining “state-supported” doping in Russian athletics and large-scale corruption. It recommended that the country's athletics federation be suspended. Mutko is set to discuss the report with President Vladimir Putin at a meeting on Wednesday that will also look at Russia's preparations for the 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the doping allegations would be “touched on” at a meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, but insisted it would not be the main topic of discussion as the meeting had been on the cards for weeks.

Putin has yet to comment himself on the bombshell allegations made in the WADA report. The Kremlin, however, has already dismissed the allegations as “groundless” and sport authorities in the country have promised a rapid response to avoid being sidelined from next year's Games.

Mutko said he would on Thursday provide an answer to WADA's allegations against Russia's anti-doping agency RUSADA, adding that the organisation had “no doubt” it could meet international anti-doping standards.

The WADA-led commission said RUSADA doping control officers had “routinely” accepted bribes from athletes to ensure their doping tests would be found negative, among other damning findings. The head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, resigned late Tuesday, hours after his laboratory was suspended over the WADA allegations.

WADA accused Rodchenkov of being at the heart of a scheme to cover up widespread use of illegal drugs among Russian athletes, including deliberately destroying positive test samples.