MOSCOW, July 8 (R-Sport) – The head of Russia’s athletics federation on Monday claimed accusations that doping is widespread in Russian track and field are part of a conspiracy to wreck next month’s world championships in Moscow.
Over the weekend, British tabloid newspaper the Mail on Sunday published a special investigation claiming that Russian athletes were pressured to dope and that the head of the national drug test laboratory in Moscow had faced criminal charges related to the supply of banned substances.
“I think that the publication’s goal is explained at the end of the text - the world championships in Moscow,” Russia's athletics federation president Valentin Balakhnichev said. “The author, with a great understanding of the importance of this competition, has decided to spoil the beginning of it, to spoil guests’ opinions about the country.”
Balakhnichev conceded that some of the allegations deserve further scrutiny. “I don’t yet understand how to react to it. Either it’s a provocation or it really is something serious,” he said.
On Sunday, the head coach of the Russian national athletics team, Valentin Maslakov, suggested the sources for the British article had “people behind them” pushing the claims.
The executive director of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, Nikita Kamaev, on Sunday claimed that those making accusations against Russia's drug test regime had not provided sufficient proof of any wrongdoing.
"Show facts, show your cards, gentlemen, and then we can judge it," he told R-Sport, and defended Grigory Rodchenko, head of the national drug test laboratory, who allegedly faced doping-related criminal charges in 2011.
"There are no problems whatsoever with our work with him," he said.
The world championships are the first major athletics competition in Russia since the 1980 Olympics and will run from August 10 through 18.