Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered an investigation into the World Anti-Doping Agency’s findings that his country’s athletes were involved in a systematic doping programme.
Speaking for the first time since Monday’s publication of WADA’s damning report, which said Russia’s security services were involved in the doping programme, Putin ordered cooperation with the international anti-doping agencies.
In comments reported on the Kremlin’s website, Putin said: “It is necessary to conduct our own internal investigation and to provide the open – I stress – the most open and professional cooperation with the international anti-doping agencies. In Russia we have to do everything to get rid of this problem.
“I agree that this is not only a Russian problem, but if our foreign colleagues have questions, they should be answered, and it must be done in the open. I repeat, there must be professional, diligent work with our colleagues.
“It is necessary to protect our athletes from the use of illegal drugs. It is necessary for them, our athletes, for their health. And also the sporting contest must be fair.”
Putin was speaking after his sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who was described by WADA commission chairman Dick Pound as being “complicit” in the scandal, had said Britain’s anti-doping system must be worth “zero” if it failed to catch six Russian athletes with previous suspicious test results whom the WADA report said competed in London in 2012.
He told Russia’s Interfax news agency: “If you’re accusing our athletes today, then I’m afraid your system (Britain’s) is zero and worse than ours.”
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson responded saying: “We believe Britain’s anti-doping system is robust.”
Mutko described as “absurd” calls by Football Association chairman Greg Dyke for his membership of FIFA’s executive committee to be reviewed in light of the WADA report. He also said he was prepared to put a “foreign specialist” in charge of Russia’s suspended anti-doping laboratory if that is needed.
Russia could still face a ban from next year’s Rio 2016 Olympics although the threat receded on Wednesday when IOC president Thomas Bach admitted the organisation lacked the power to bar the country.
WADA’s independent commission called for Russia to be barred but Bach said the IOC had “no authority” to do impose a ban and said that any such decision must come from the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body.
Bach, speaking to several media in Lausannne, added: “The IAAF has informed us they will take the necessary measures.
“I am very positive that these measures will go in the right direction. That means to protect clean athletes.”
Russia looks likely to be handed a provisional suspension by the IAAF’s ruling council on Friday ahead of a formal disciplinary hearing following revelations of systemic doping in the country.
It is understood that IAAF president Lord Coe wants to have the disciplinary process completed within a month.
A provisional suspension would see Russians excluded from international athletics competition, including events such as the London marathon. The suspension would have to be confirmed by a disciplinary panel which could see the country banned until it can prove its anti-doping programme is working properly.
Russia could also be stripped of two IAAF events next year: the world junior championships in Kazan in July and the world race walking team championships planned for Cheboksary in May.
Meanwhile, MP Damian Collins, a member of the Parliamentary culture, media and sport committee, has written to the Serious Fraud Office asking it to investigate corruption in athletics connected to the London Olympics.
Coe’s predecessor Lamine Diack, who is being investigated by French police on suspicion of having taken more than 1 million euros in payments to cover up positive drugs tests, has resigned as an honorary member of the IOC.