Russia blasts NYT doping 'conspiracy' report
Russia has hit out at a report in The New York Times (NYT) that officials have acknowledged a massive sports doping conspiracy, reiterating claims there was no government involvement.
The NYT reported on Tuesday that the acting director general of Russia's scandal-mired national anti-doping agency had "for the first time" conceded that officials conducted the programme to cheat.
"It was an institutional conspiracy," Anna Antseliovich was reported as telling the US newspaper in an article datelined from Moscow.
Antseliovich and others interviewed continued to reject the characterisation of the doping scheme as "state-sponsored", telling the Times that top government officials were not involved.
But Moscow on Wednesday slammed the article, with anti-doping agency Rusada insisting that Antseliovich's words were "distorted and taken out of context".
The NYT reporter "took these words out of context, creating the impression that Rusada's leadership had admitted to an institutional system of a doping cover-up in Russia", the agency said in a statement.
"We want to underline that Rusada does not and cannot have the authority to admit or deny such facts," it said.
In a later interview with a Moscow radio station, Antseliovich also said her remarks had been "taken out of context and widely reinterpreted".
However, the US newspaper stood by its account with the writer of the story, Rebecca Ruiz, saying the quotes were correct.
Richard McLaren said in a news report for the World Anti-Doping Agency earlier this month that more than 1,000 Russian athletes in some 30 sports used banned drugs at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the 2012 London Summer Games and other global events.
Russia has admitted that it had a problem with doping, but insists that there is no proof there was a state-orchestrated programme to cheat.
The Kremlin repeated earlier rejections of allegations of state involvement in doping, while also casting doubt on the latest report in the NYT.
"From the very beginning, we have denied any involvement by the state or state institutions or services or agencies in the possible use of doping by sportsmen," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. - AFP