28 Russians face action over Sochi samples

Source:AFP Published: 2016/12/24 0:08:39

President Putin reaffirms no state-sponsored doping in country

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has launched an inquiry into 28 Russians suspected of tampering with doping samples at the 2014 Sochi Games in a new blow to Russia's efforts to redeem its name.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied any state backing for the mass doping revealed by investigator Richard McLaren, but the IOC has also ordered new testing of all samples from Russians at Sochi, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and the 2012 London Summer Games.

"In Russia there never was - it is simply impossible and we will do everything for this never to be the case - a state doping system and support for doping," Putin said Friday.

The IOC said disciplinary proceedings against the 28 were ordered following McLaren's latest report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released on December 9.

The Russian president was pressed on state involvement in the doping at his end-of-year news conference on Friday before the IOC made its latest announcement.

"We have, like any other country, problems with this and we need to recognize that. Recognizing this, [we need] to do everything for there to be no doping. To that end we must closely cooperate with the IOC, WADA and other international organizations," Putin said.

"We need to rid sport as well as culture of politics because sport and culture are meant to unite people, not divide them," the Russian leader noted.

McLaren has accused Russia of "state-sponsored" doping, using the intelligence services to organize the swapping of samples at Sochi.

His latest report said that 1,000 Russian athletes in all sports took part in the doping system in which coffee and salt were used to hide failures.

While the IOC did not name any of the 28 athletes involved in Sochi, the International Ski Federation (FIS) said that six Russian cross-country skiers were involved.

The FIS said it had suspended the six and that Russia had withdrawn from holding the cross-country World Cup finals in Tyumen in March.

With pressure mounting on Russia and international federations over the scandal, Russia on Thursday withdrew from holding a biathlon World Cup event in Tyumen and junior world championships, while speed skating's governing body stripped it of a World Cup meet.

"The IOC is initiating disciplinary cases against all 28 athletes for whom there is evidence of manipulation of one or more of their urine samples that were collected at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014," an IOC statement said.

McLaren found that 28 of the 95 samples his team studied had signs of "manipulation," said the IOC.

The 28 samples are now being reanalyzed at the Lausanne Anti-Doping Laboratory for signs of banned substances.

Twenty-seven Russian athletes have already been sanctioned by the IOC as a result of retesting of some samples from the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games.

All Russian samples from the 2010 Vancouver Games are also to be re-tested, the IOC said.

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