MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin called yesterday for sports officials to restore Moscow’s place in international sport and implement a “culture of no tolerance” to doping ahead of a vote to elect a new head of Russia’s Olympic Committee.
“It is important to ensure the restoration of our position in the international sport movement, to actively participate in the work of international federations and to continue working on improving the effectiveness of anti-doping systems,” Putin said in a statement published on the Kremlin’s website.
He added that “it is necessary to give priority to the formation of an absolute no tolerance culture to this negative phenomenon at all stages of sports training”.
The Kremlin has consistently denied a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency that accused Moscow of state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015, including at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
But some senior Russian sports officials admitted to “some unacceptable manipulations of the anti-doping system” and the existence of a “systemic doping scheme” in a letter to international sports leaders last week.
It was signed by Russian minister of sport Pavel Kolobkov, outgoing Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president Alexander Zhukov and Russian Paralympic Committee president Vladimir Lukin.
The letter described the doping as “systemic” but does not use the word “institutional”, a key conclusion of the World Anti Doping Agency inquiry led by Richard McLaren, who found that the Russia’s FSB security service was involved in manipulating urine samples at the Russian-hosted 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Putin also thanked the ROC’s Zhukov “for his work in defending the interests of Russian sport” after eight years in charge.Former Olympic champions Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who won five medals in fencing, and Alexander Popov, who took four medals in 50 and 100-metre freestyle swimming, are among the candidates to succeed him.