Putin urges unified international doping control standards

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the meeting with the national Olympic team before its sendoff to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The Kremlin.© Michael Klimentyev
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for the introduction of unified international standards for doping controls, and for both athletes and sports fans to have easy access to all necessary information.

Russia must show that it is fully committed to a clean and honest fight and that it is ready for a real partnership with the sporting world in its opposition to the use of doping,” Putin said.

The Russian head of state was speaking at the Kremlin, where he was meeting with more than 150 athletes who will soon depart for Rio de Janeiro to take part in next month’s Olympic Games.

However, he was scathing about the fact that a number of clean Russian athletes will be denied the opportunity to represent their country at the Games.

A number of Russian athletes have unfairly suffered and there was no concrete evidence of doping against them,” he said, while also mentioning that the absence of dozens of Russian athletes would only serve to make the events less interesting.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) banned 67 Russian athletes from competing in Rio, with only the US-based long jumper Darya Klishina being allowed to represent Russia.

“Russia cannot agree with the absolute disqualification of our track and field athletes,” Putin said, adding that this was “open discrimination” and that they would fight to clear their names. 

A number of other federations, such as the International Rowing Federation – which banned 22 out of 28 Russians hoping to compete in Rio – have imposed sanctions on Russian athletes who were named in the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) McLaren report but have not actually tested positive for any banned substances.

While stating that it is important to punish the guilty parties, Putin also mentioned that Russia must take steps to fight doping problems in the future.

Russia is not only going to hold responsible all those athletes who are guilty of doping offenses, but it must also create an effective system to fight doping,” he said.

He called on those athletes who are being allowed to compete to “show the whole world that we can win in an open and fair manner.” However, he once again said that Russian athletes were being unfairly targeted, stating that this was an attempt to introduce the same rules into sport that are dominating the world of politics.

This absolutely does not conform to the Olympic principles. However, we will look for the truth, using only legal means, in keeping with the strict accordance of the Olympic charter,” the Russian president added.

On Friday, Putin called for an independent commission with the inclusion of foreign experts to address problems with Russia’s anti-doping system. The commission will be headed by former International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice president Vitaly Smirnov, and will include current Russian IOC members Aleksandr Popov, Shamil Tarpischev, and Aleksandr Zhukov.

At present, 240 Russian athletes competing in 27 different sports will be going to Rio. Thirty-eight athletes are still waiting to learn their fate, while 109 competitors – including Russia’s track and field athletes – will not be going to the Olympics.