MOSCOW: Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has said he has no problem with staying away from next month’s Rio Olympics as long as the Russian team is present writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
On Tuesday the International Olympic Committee enacted a number of proposals concerning Russian participation at the Games including a pursuit of further legal advice ahead of a definitive decision on Snday plus a bar from Rio on the presence of all the country’s scandal-linked officials.
Professor Richard McLaren, after publication of his latest damning report into allegations of Russia’s state-led doping system, had said it was “inconceivable” that Minister Mutko would have been unaware of the programme.
Mutko is also president of the Russian football federation, a member of the governing councils of both world and European bodies FIFA and UEFA and head of Russia’s 2018 World Cup local organising committee.
In response to his IOC ban Mutko, according to new agency TASS, said: “We are always only ever guests at the Olympic Games – we even need a special pass to visit the Athletes’ village – so for me the main thing is that our team go to the Olympics. As for me, I can deal with that. It’s not the priority.”
Mutko also took a swipe at the workings of the World Anti-Doping Agency which had commissioned McLaren’s report after revelations by Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, in a newspaper interview.
Mutko said: “We will again review our relationship with the WADA on the basis that this organisation must bear responsibility for what has happened in the anti-doping system.
“We trusted them and were guided by their standards and their monitoring system concerning the accreditation which they awarded to our laboratories and organisations. They controlled the system of doping controls, including at the Sochi Olympics.”
Mutko said his Ministry could not agree with any of McLaren’s conclusions and the WADA recommendations stemming from it without having studied the supporting evidence.
He added: “If our law enforcement agencies, after conducting an investigation, find convincing evidence then all those involved must bear personal responsibility, but we need to move forward, we cannot sacrifice Russian sport in the meantime.”
Russian anti-doping experts have cast doubt on the credibility and motives of Rodchenkov and the conclusions McLaren drew from scratch damage to sample bottles from the Sochi Winter Games.