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Putin orders action on Russia doping scandal

Vladimir Putin said that Russia must "do everything" to eradicate doping, ordering an inquiry into allegations of major drug abuse in athletics that have left the country facing international isolation.

Moscow is scrambling to respond to the bombshell World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report, which outlined systematic doping in Russian athletics, declaring that a foreign specialist could take over its discredited testing laboratory. The athletics world governing body has given Russia until Friday to come up with answers to the allegations, and with the deadline looming Putin met sports chiefs in Sochi, the Black Sea home of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The stakes could not be higher for Russia, which risks being excluded from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio over damning allegations of corruption and "state-sponsored" doping. "We must do everything in Russia to rid ourselves of this problem," Putin said yesterday in footage shown on Russian television of the meeting -- ironically called to discuss the country's preparations for Rio 2016.

"We must carry out our own internal inquiry," he said, telling sports officials to show "the most open and professional cooperation with international anti-doping authorities". "This problem does not exist only in Russia, but if our foreign colleagues have questions, we must answer them," he said. It is the first time Putin, an avid sportsman, has commented publicly on the charges levelled by an independent commission chaired by WADA's Dick Pound, which rocked the flagship Olympics sport.
He echoed a plea by Russia's Olympic Committee not to sacrifice the dreams of clean competitors, saying there should not be collective punishment.

Russia, accused by WADA of “sabotaging” the last Olympic Games, finished fourth in the medals table at London 2012. But ahead of the meeting in Sochi, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko suggested the doping furore could have been aimed at tarnishing the country’s image. Earlier Mutko said he was open to the possibility of an overseas successor to Grigory Rodchenkov, the disgraced director of Moscow’s suspended anti-doping laboratory, who according to WADA deliberately destroyed almost 1,500 samples.

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