MOSCOW: The Russian Sports Ministry has announced further measures in the hope of convincing world sport that the Olympic door should be opened to its athletes in Rio de Janeiro writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Russia was frozen out after a revelatory German television documentary about a systemtic doping and cover-up system was followed by a damning report from an independent commission led by Dick Pound for the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Now the Ministry – headed by multi-tasking Vitaly Mutko – has announced that two independent international experts will be based full-time in Moscow from the end of this month.
The experts have been nominated by WADA and, according to a Ministry statement, “will be given full and free access to all anti-doping operations in Russia for as long as necessary.”
The statement added: “Their role will be to ensure the Russian anti-doping system is free of undue interference and is fully independent.”
Confirmation of the appointments followed a meeting of an independent supervisory board created to oversee the reform of Russia’s anti-doping operations. A a new anti-doping disciplinary panel has also been launched.
The supervisory board was set up on the recommendation of WADA to guarantee RUSADA’s independence. It has also been handed responsibility for overseeing RUSADA’s operation and includes Sergey Khrychikov, the Council of Europe’s head of its Sport Convention Unit, who was recommended by WADA.
In addition, all Russian track and field athletes still hoping to compete in Rio 2016 will undergo a minimum of three independent, externally administered anti-doping controls before the Olympic Games, carried out by the world federation IAAF in addition to all of the existing anti-doping procedures.
Mutko said: “We believe that sport must be clean and fair at all levels, from grassroots through to elite. We are 100pc supportive of WADA’s efforts, alongside the IOC and IAAF and other organisations, to stamp out cheating.
“Russia is implementing all necessary reforms. To do this, in December 2015 we agreed a road-map with WADA to reform and reaccredit our operations including our anti-doping laboratory and RUSADA. The first meeting of the supervisory board and the presence of these independent experts are a key part of this road-map.
“Clean athletes’ dreams must not be allowed to be destroyed because of other people’s mistakes. This is an important step in our journey.”