11 Nov 2015

Russia reject 'groundless' doping allegations

1:37 pm on 11 November 2015

Russia has rejected as "groundless" accusations of widespread doping and corruption in athletics and promised a rapid response to avoid suspension from the 2016 Olympics.

"Until any proof has been put forward it is hard to accept any accusations as they seem rather groundless," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took the first concrete measure since Monday's damning report from its independent commission by suspending Moscow's heavily-criticised anti-doping laboratory.

The 335-page report contains accusations of Russian "state-sponsored" doping.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe has given the Russian athletics federation (ARAF) "until the end of the week" to respond or risk possible suspension, with the IAAF Council set to meet in Monaco on Friday.

Lord Sebastian Coe speaking at an event in Auckland.

Lord Sebastian Coe speaking at an event in Auckland earlier this year. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Despite the Kremlin's dismissive reaction, ARAF assured Coe that it would contact the IAAF "in the very near future" outlining its anti-doping program and "its reaction to the deductions and conclusions" in WADA's report.

Calls for Russia, fourth in the 2012 London Olympics medal table, to be banned from next year's Olympic Games are growing.

UK Athletics chief Ed Warner has endorsed Coe's suggestion Russia could be banned and that view was echoed by Australia's national Olympic Committee.

"If Russia is not in Rio, I think the reputation of athletics will be enhanced because the public will know every athlete competing is clean and is competing in the true spirit of the Olympic Games," the 2016 Australian Olympic team's chef de mission Kitty Chiller said.

Among its other recommendations, the WADA report called for five Russian athletes - including 800m Olympic winner Mariya Savinova - to be given lifetime bans, suggesting the presence of doped athletes had "sabotaged" the 2012 Games in London.

Russian athletes Mariya Savinova (left) Ekaterina Poistogova celebrate their 800m gold and bronze medal success at the London Olympics.

Russian athletes Mariya Savinova (left) Ekaterina Poistogova celebrate their 800m gold and bronze medal success at the London Olympics. Photo: Photosport

WADA meanwhile confirmed the provisional closure of the Moscow laboratory in the eye of the doping storm.

The report revealed that the laboratory's director had ordered close to 1,500 samples to be deliberately destroyed.

The suspension was described as "utter nonsense" by Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA) director Nikita Kamayev.

He insisted that the agency worked "in full compliance" with WADA guidelines and said it would be sending its response to the accusations by November 18th.

"Some people are stuck in the epoch of James Bond," Kamayev told a press conference.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said however there was no reason to doubt anti-doping results from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, carried out at a WADA-accredited laboratory.

"However, the IOC, retaining all the doping samples for 10 years, will re-test samples in an appropriate way should substantial doubts arise," it said.

"In any case, the IOC may re-test samples once new scientific techniques become available."

-AAP

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