In the wake of Russia being banned from officially competing in the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, the country’s former minister of sport, Vitaly Mutko, is reported as challenging the credibility of the investigations that found Russia guilty of state-sponsored doping.
When the story of the widespread Russian doping scandal broke in late 2015, an official investigation was commissioned. Last December, those reports confirmed a state-backed program in which athletes were administered WADA-banned drugs with their samples being protected and tainted.
In the most recent chapter of this ongoing drama, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) came to the decision that Russian athletes would not be given the green-light to compete at the upcoming Winter Games. The Russian Olympic Committee was also fined US$15 million to cover the costs of ongoing investigations and athletes who do compete cannot do so under the Russian flag and uniform.
According to The Guardian, the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, called the Russian doping scheme an attack on both the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games. Ahead of this next major international competition, it looks like the IOC is putting their foot down.
Mutko has also been handed a lifetime ban – news that came with the IOC announcement. According to news sources, as a response to this decision, he said that the country did not have in place a system of administering banned drugs to athletes. He told journalists that Russia has not encouraged doping and that athletes are closely monitored. He also suggested that the IOC ban is discriminatory.
According to the Independent, Mutko said that proof that athletes’ samples had been swapped or tampered with proved dishonest anti-doping practices however, he said, it did not prove wrongdoing by the Russian government. He also added that he is disappointed in the athletes who took banned drugs to enhance performance.
Mutko was also the sports minister when Russia hosted the last Games – an Olympics we now know to be drastically rigged in the nation’s favour.
The Pyeongchang Games are happening Feb. 9-25.