From Inside the Games

Vladimir Putin has said state-sponsored doping never happened in Russia on the same day the International Olympic Committee (IOC) opened disciplinary proceedings against 28 athletes from the country whose urine samples at Sochi 2014 contained evidence of being tampered with.

The Russian President spoke out today against the findings made by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, who conducted the report which found over 1,000 athletes had been involved in a state-sponsored doping scheme in the nation and investigated a total of 95 samples given by Russian competitors at their home Winter Olympics provided to him by the IOC.

McLaren uncovered 28 samples with evidence of manipulation and they will now be re-analysed for Adverse Analytical Findings (AAF).

During his annual news conference, Putin said the country “never had such a system” in place.

“This is simply impossible and we will be doing everything possible to prevent,” Putin said.

“There must never be such thing as state system for doping support.”

Putin went onto say Grigory Rodchenkov, who was the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) whistleblower, could have been working on foreign instructions.

“I am confident that the activities of any anti-doping agency, including WADA, should be transparent, clear and verifiable, and we should be aware of the results of its work,” he added.

Should the 28 samples in question test positive, the athletes implicated are likely to face sanctions from the IOC, including being stripped of Olympic medals.

“At this point in time, these 28 new cases are not AAFs, like a positive doping test,” the IOC said in a statement.

“However, the manipulation of the samples themselves could lead to an anti-doping rule violation and sanctions.”

When asked by Russian news agency TASS to name the 28 athletes involved, the IOC refused to do so.

IOC President Thomas Bach, who admitted in a recent interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the substantial evidence of a state-sponsored doping programme in Russia made him feel “shock” and “inner rage”, said today’s decision was an “immediate follow-up” to the McLaren Report.

The report detailed proof of the tampering of samples of 12 medallists from Sochi 2014, while six winners of 21 medals at the Winter Paralympics also had their sample tampered with.

The programme, described by the Canadian as “a cover-up that evolved over the years from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning strategy and conspiracy”, was in operation between 2011 and 2015.

It included the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Olympic Games and involved more than 30 sports.

The McLaren Report revealed over 1,000 Russian athletes had been implicated in the state-sponsored doping programme ©Getty Images
The McLaren Report revealed over 1,000 Russian athletes had been implicated in the state-sponsored doping programme ©Getty Images

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