Russian Politicians Dismiss WADA Doping Allegations As Scandal Continues

Russian drug test lab
The "Federal scientific center of physical culture and sports" in Moscow, which housed Russia's only WADA-accredited laboratory until the accreditation was suspended on November 10, following a report alleging widespread doping and cover-up among Russian athletes. Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

Representatives of Russia's parliament have joined the Kremlin and the country's minister of sport in protesting the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) recommended ban on Russian athletes due to suspicions of widespread doping.

In a report released on Monday, WADA accused Russia of "systematic failures" in implementing anti-doping measures and recommended that Russian athletes be suspended from all international athletic competitions. But sports minister Vitaly Mutko said that if international bodies dedicated "even a fraction of their work" to sport's best interests, they would not suspend Russian athletes.

In an interview with Russian sports news website R-Sport on Wednesday, Mutko conceded that a ban on Russian athletes could potentially come into effect before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He alluded to the idea that the WADA investigation might in some way be a deliberate effort to take Russia out of contention.

"The (possibility) does exist because for some it would conveniently get rid of a direct competitor, while for others conveniently smear the image of the country," Mutko said.

Nevertheless, Mutko also said that Russia is ready to hire a WADA-recommended expert to head its anti-doping laboratory after Grigoriy Rodchenkov stepped down from the role on Tuesday. The WADA report accused Rodchenkov of destroying samples taken from athletes in a deliberate bid to conceal evidence of doping.

Both Mutko and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the WADA report of not providing sufficient evidence to support the claims that Russian athletes are guilty of doping.

"So far we have spoken about certain allegations that have been presented in public, but they were not publicly supported by any kind of information," Peskov told independent news agency Interfax.

Speaking on radio station Govorit Moskva, Dmitry Svishtov, the chairman of the Russian State Duma's committee on sport and youth (part of the country's Federal Assembly), branded the WADA suggestion an "irresponsible act."

"The Russian team happens to be one of the strongest in the world and without the participation of our teams in any Games, including the Olympic Games, many will lose out," said Moskva, adding that he was "practically convinced" that a ban would not be introduced as a result.