KAZAN, Russia, July 8 (R-Sport) – Allegations published in the British media that doping is rife in Russian athletics may have been sparked by jealousy, after the Russian team’s recent victory over its British rival, Russia’s sports minister suggested Monday.
British tabloid newspaper the Mail on Sunday reported that Russian athletes were pressured into doping and that the head of the national drug test laboratory in Moscow had faced criminal charges related to supplying banned substances.
With a little over a month to go until Moscow hosts the world athletics championships, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko suggested the claims could have been motivated by the fact that an under-strength Russian team topped the medals table in March’s European championships.
“Our successes don’t sit well with many people and they cannot explain our success,” he said when asked about the claims.
“Our team at the European championships, with a second-string roster, beat the main British team. Of course they can’t understand where these sorts of reserves come from.”
He added: “Our success is very simple - from the talent of our people, from coaching talent” and said Russia had done more in the fight against doping in five years than “Britain and Norway” had done in two decades.
Mutko alleged the doping claims were aimed at stripping the Russian national laboratory of its authority to conduct drug tests at next year’s Winter Olympics.
“The goal is clear, to remove the status from our laboratory, so it isn’t accredited, so another laboratory comes to Sochi, other people,” he said.
Mutko’s comments echoed those of senior figures in Russian athletics. Both the national team’s head coach Valentin Maslakov and Russian athletics federation head Valentin Balakhnichev have suggested that the allegations are part of a conspiracy aimed at discrediting Russia.
Russia has long had a problem with positive doping tests among its athletes in several sports.
Five members of the Russian delegation at last year’s Olympics have tested positive for banned substances during or after the Games, including discus thrower Daria Pishchalnikova, who was stripped of her silver medal and banned for 10 years in April.