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Russian Officials Slam WADA’s ‘Politically Biased’ Compliance Ruling

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The World-Anti Doping Agency (WADA) ruled for the third year running that Russia’s anti-doping agency is not meeting international standards, reported The Moscow Times (Russia).

The decision is a blow to Russia’s hopes of participating in the Winter Olympics in February, especially since Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said this summer he wasn’t even entertaining the possibility Russian athletes would be barred.

“I would like to believe that the people who are responsible for these decisions will avoid being subjective in their assessments and will be guided by common sense, rely on irrefutable facts, and not give in to emotions,” Kolobkov said.

Russian athletes and officials responded swiftly — and defensively — to WADA’s decision Thursday.

Kolobkov said his impression was that “the decision was made in advance.”
“We believe the state has fulfilled all its obligations,” he added.

Mikhail Degtyaryov, the chairman of the State Duma Committee for Physical Culture, Sport, Tourism and Youth Affairs, argued that it is not the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) that needs to reform, but WADA.

“Anyone can slander any country without any evidence and bar the national team of any country,” said Degtyaryov.

“WADA will continue to put pressure on us,” he said, adding that Russia would “urge the world community to reform the World Anti-Doping Agency.”
Degtyaryov’s deputy Valery Gazzaev called the decision politically motivated.

"WADA's refusal to restore RUSADA's rights is nothing more than a politically biased decision," he said. "It is a pity that politics continue to affect sports."

State Duma deputy and three-time Olympic figure skating champion Irina Rodnina said the WADA decision was made without proper evidence. "This is a very unpleasant moment because we have fulfilled almost all conditions,” she said.

Two-time Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva echoed Rodnina’s complaint, calling WADA’s decision "speculation."

"We met all the requirements for compliance,” she said. “Our transparency today is the envy of any organization worldwide.”

WADA’s ruling on Thursday puts pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban Russia from the upcoming Winter Games. The IOC is expected to issue rulings on Russia’s participation at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in December.

Russia’s deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko, who was Russia’s sports minister when the doping scandal story broke in 2014, believes that it should not affect the Olympic team’s participation in the upcoming Games.

“The restoration of RUSADA and the participation of the national team in the Olympics are two different things — one is not related to the other,” he said, noting that the decision was expected. “Nothing has changed following this decision.”

Hajo Seppelt, a German journalist who originally broke the story of Russia’s state-sponsored doping scheme in 2014, dismissed the Russia’s objections to the ruling. He told The Moscow Times that until Russia accepts the findings of the report commissioned by WADA to assess RUSADA, “they shouldn’t wonder why this decision has been made.”

RUSADA still has not fulfilled two of WADA’s recommendations: providing it access to a Moscow laboratory — which is currently sealed off due to a federal investigation — and publicly stating that officials were part of the cover-up.

During a press conference late Thursday morning, RUSADA head Igor Yanus called the WADA report a “serious document,” but he would not confirm whether he or the government accepts its findings.

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