Russia's Olympic chief attacks ban demands

Russia is barred from international athletics by the International Association of Athletics Federations. In photo: Alexander Zhukov attends an event revealing outfit of the Russian national Olympic and Paralympic teams on April 25, 2016. Photograph:( Getty )

AFP Moscow, Russia Jul 18, 2016, 01.05 PM (IST)
Russia's Olympic chief today attacked the United States and Canada's anti-doping agencies for trying to pressure the International Olympic Committee (IOC) into imposing a full ban on Russia from the Rio Olympics.

In a letter sent late Sunday to IOC president Thomas Bach, the head of Russia's Olympic committee Alexander Zhukov expressed deep concern and threatened to refer the case to the IOC ethics board.

"Russia's Olympic Committee was extremely disappointed with the moves by the anti-doping agencies of the United States and Canada," Zhukov wrote in his letter, which was released by the Russian committee's press service on Monday.

"We consider it to be an attempt to create an international coalition of athletes and organisations supporting a complete ban on Russian athletes competing at the Olympics."

Zhukov also expressed concern that the results of the investigation of WADA independent commission had been leaked ahead of its release later on Monday.

"This campaign is apparently based on information received by the WADA commission led by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, though this report should remain independent and completely confidential until the date of its release," Zhukov said.

"How could these organisations know in advance the content of the report before it was officially presented? The situation raises very serious concern in the Russian Olympic Committee since it casts doubt on the integrity and independence of this report."

Russia's Olympic supremo also said that the North-American anti-doping agencies' moves seemed to be part of a pre-planned campaign.

"We have the impression that this is part of a well-planned and preconceived campaign aimed at keeping Russian athletes out of competition at the Rio Olympic Games regardless of the existence of any proofs that are needed to take such an unprecedented decision," Zhukov said.

He accused Beckie Scott, the Canadian chairman of the WADA athletes commission of being "only interested in punishing hundreds of clean Russian athletes for crimes that they did not commit".

"Her intervention... runs counter to the principles of the Olympics charter and undermines trust in McLaren's report ahead of its release," he said.

Zhukov said Russia is "considering the possibility of sending this issue to the IOC ethics commission" to ensure that procedures were followed strictly during the independent investigation.

Zhukov's letter came after Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutko condemned the situation around the McLaren report as "just a farce and political pressure".

Russia is already barred from international athletics by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) could rule as early as Tuesday on an appeal by 68 Russian athletes who say they should be allowed to compete in Rio.

McLaren has investigated allegations made by former Moscow doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov that even Russian secret services took part in an operation to manipulate Russian doping samples at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.