‘Majority of doping scandals not athletes’ fault’: Russian NBA stars talk doping scandal

Russian NBA stars Timofey Mozgov, Sasha Kaun, and Sergey Karasev said that recent doping scandals have dealt a huge blow to Russian sport, but expressed hope that the national athletics team will be allowed to compete in the Rio Olympics this summer.

“All I know – you don’t have to do doping. That’s it,” Timofey Mozgov of the Cleveland Cavaliers told RT, when asked to comment on last year’s doping scandal in Russian athletics and recent allegations that Maria Sharapova used the drug meldonium. 

“The guys who use doping; they have to understand that they have responsibility not only for themselves, but, in general, for the Russian national team; you know, the teammates; the guys next to you,” he said. 

According to the basketballer, the Russian doping scandals should “be a good lesson for everybody.” 

Mozgov’s teammate on the Cleveland Cavs, Sasha Kaun, said that for him, “it’s just hard to see so many athletes get banned from their sports.”

“I’m sure that majority of it – it’s not their fault. It’s the doctors that don’t follow the rules and regulations of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency),” he stressed.

As for the prospect of Russian track and field athletes missing out on the Rio Games, the player said that “it’s going to be devastating and it’s going to hurt us – the Russian sport – big time.”

“Hopefully, it won’t happen. Hopefully, we’ll fight and something good will come out of it,” Kaun said. 

Sergey Karasev of the Brooklyn Nets said he couldn’t believe that Maria Sharapova had been caught up in a doping controversy.

“I think she’s really professional. I’m not sure that she can do something like that. She’s too professional; played tennis too long,” he said. 

The point guard said it had been “great” playing the Olympics and that it would be “tough” if the Russian athletics team is banned from the Games.

RT caught up with the players during the SportsUnited: Basketball Ambassadors of Today and Tomorrow event hosted by the Brooklyn Nets.

The program saw a group of 32 Russian coaches arriving in the US to exchange experience with their US counterparts.  

A delegation of American coaches and young basketball players is expected in Moscow for a return visit in April. 

Kaun expressed hope that the SportsUnited program “will help to develop some basketball and hopefully popularize basketball even more in Russia.”

Karasev said that he now expects more Russian players to make it into the National Basketball Association.

“We have three Russian guys in the NBA. I hope that the young guys, who just do their first steps in basketball – they look at me, look at Timo and look at Sasha; they want to be here,” he said.

“It’ll be a big step for Russian basketball if we can bring a couple more Russian guys here,” Karasev added.

READ MORE: WADA launches doping investigation into Russian swimming

In March of this year, Sharapova announced that she had failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open.

She said that she tested had positive for meldonium, which has only been banned by WADA since the beginning of 2016. 

It later turned out that a group of other Russian athletes hadn’t picked up on the fact that the drug had recently been forbidden either, including figure skater Ekaterina Bobrova and short-track athlete Pavel Kulizhnikov, both Sochi Olympic champions.  

A large doping scandal broke out in Russian athletics last year involving the country’s anti-doping agency, RUSADA. It led to a ban being imposed on all of the country’s track-and-field athletes, which may very well remain place through the Rio Games.

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