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Russian officials backtrack on admissions over doping

By Robert Jones

Russian anti-doping officials have claimed Anna Antseliovich was misquoted when she said doping in the country was an "institutional conspiracy".

Antseliovich, the acting director general of Russia's national anti-doping agency (RUSADA), gave an interview to the New York Times newspaper in which it was reported on Tuesday that the agency no longer disputed that a doping programme existed - although it denied the scheme was state-sponsored.

But RUSADA yesterday issued a statement claiming her words were taken out of context while she was discussing the McLaren report into Russian doping published earlier this month.

It said: "In response to the article published in The New York Times newspaper, RUSADA states that...Antseliovich has been misquoted and her words were taken out of the context.

"During the conversation between Antseliovich and the journalist Rebecca Ruiz, the acting director general pointed out that in the second part of his report published on December 9, 2016, Richard McLaren no longer used the words 'state-sponsored system of doping' and instead referred to 'institutional conspiracy' thereby excluding potential involvement of the top country officials.

"Unfortunately Ms Ruiz, by taking the words out of the context, created an impression that RUSADA management admits to the existence of such institutional conspiracy of doping cover-up in Russia.

"We would like to stress that RUSADA has no authority to admit to or deny any such fact, since the investigation of the case is handled by the investigative committee of the Russian Federation.

"In addition, we would like to stress that RUSADA firmly believes that every accused athlete has unalienable right to challenge the accusations."

Leading an investigation for the World Anti-Doping Agency, Canadian law professor McLaren found evidence that over 1,000 Russian athletes in more than 30 Olympic and Paralympic sports were involved in a plot which began at least as early as 2011 and ran until 2015.

Russian sports officials had vehemently denied the existence of any doping operation even as the International Olympic Committee opened disciplinary proceedings against several Russian athletes.

Russia's athletics team remains banned from competition by the International Association of Athletics Federation.

Last week, the IOC announced it has opened disciplinary proceedings against 28 Russian athletes who competed at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Twenty-seven Russian athletes have already been sanctioned following re-analysis of samples from the summer Olympic Games in Beijing and London.

The IOC will also re-analyse all samples from Russian athletes given at the Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010.

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