Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has claimed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) must avoid politicising the crisis in the country following a string of positive drug tests.
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe revealed last week that Russia were to be given more time to prove they were tackling the crisis, but refused to lift a suspension imposed on the country last November.
The ban followed the publication of the first WADA Independent Commission report which found evidence of state-supported doping in athletics.
While Rune Andersen, the Norwegian leading the Taskforce overseeing Russia’s reinstatement, claimed there had been “considerable progress”, the IAAF are now set to review the decision at its next Council meeting in May.
If the ban is not lifted, Russian athletes will not be able to compete at Rio 2016.
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was also declared non-compliant by WADA following the reports.
WADA Independent Commission head Richard Pound claimed earlier this week that Russia had not been taking the issue seriously enough, stating that “there seems to be some evidence that they’re just changing deckchairs on the Titanic.”
Lavrov has now hit back, claiming that Russia needs to be treated fairly by WADA.
“These are serious people, we respect WADA and want to cooperate with the agency,” he told Russian television station REN-TV.
“But it must be done on a professional and fair level, without slogans and attempts to claim the ultimate knowledge of scientific truth.
“We have our own experts, and other countries do too.”
Russia have been dealt several blows throughout the past week, with German broadcasters WDR/ARD alleging their athletes and coaches were ignoring the IAAF ban.
The programme by journalists Hajo Seppelt and Florian Riesewieck also uncovered accusations that a member of RUSADA gave athletes advanced notice of when they were due to be tested.
Several of their athletes have also allegedly tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, a heart attack drug added to the WADA banned list on January 1.
Tennis superstar Maria Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam winner, is the most high profile athlete to test positive to date, with the Russian having announcing her failed test herself on Monday (March 7).
Russian speed skaters Semyon Elistratov and Pavel Kulizhnikov are also reported to have provided samples containing the substance, while the International Skating Union confirmed ice dancer Ekaterina Bobrova had failed.
Husband and wife rugby sevens players Alexey Mikhaltsov and his wife Alena were the latest names to be revealed yesterday.
Lavrov claimed Russia were looking to receive an explanation of why the substance was added to the banned list.
“I believe that professional explanation must follow in response to professional questions,” he said.
“Maybe WADA management had good reason unknown to either us or the scientific community and the expert community.”
Developed in Lativa, meldonium was moved from the monitored to the prohibited list by WADA due to “evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance”.
WADA confirmed on Friday that there had been 99 adverse analytical findings for meldonium since it was added to the banned list.
Ethiopia’s Tokyo Marathon winner Endeshaw Negesse, Sweden’s Ethiopian-born former world 1500 metres champion Abeba Aregawi and Georgian wrestler Davit Modzmanashvili have been implicated.
The drug’s Latvian founder Ivars Kalvins claimed in 2009 that meldonium was given to Soviet soldiers during the Afghanistan War in the 1980s in order to boost endurance.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has expressed his hope that it will be removed from the banned list and referenced the stimulant bromantane, which is banned in but not out of competition.
“The history of Russian sports knows the story with bromantane, because of which many Olympic champions were disqualified,” he told the Russian television programme Vesti.
“Later on, we proved the drug did not comply with two criteria [to be put on the banned list].
“But this is a separate topic, do I allow opportunity of the kind regarding meldonium?
“Yes, I do.”
- By Michael Pavitt
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz