Kremlin, Russian Media Slam Allegations of State-Sponsored Doping
Vladimir Putin's spokesman says there is "no evidence" of wrongdoing as a major newspaper says the claims are "most ambitious attack on national sport" ever.
Russian officials and media have reacted critically to allegations of systematic state-sponsored doping of the country's top athletes.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, lashed out Tuesday at the lack of evidence in the findings of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The country's sports minister dubbed them "baseless and fictional," setting the tone for the country's media coverage of the shock 325-page report by the international independent commission.
At an official Kremlin press briefing, Peskov, quoted by state news agency RIA Novosti, said WADA had offered no evidence to support its claims that Russian officials operated a massive doping program, covering its tracks by systematically destroying test samples from athletes.
"Accusations must be supported by evidence," Peskov said. "Without that, they are quite groundless."
Business daily Kommersant, normally noted for its balance and objectivity, dubbed the allegations "the most ambitious attack on national sport in history."
RT, the Kremlin-backed international English-language TV service, on its website headlined its lead story "Baseless and fictional," reporting sports minister Vitaly Mutko's vigorous denials of wrongdoing.
"There is the report of the commission and there is the opinion of [WADA chairman Dick] Pound, who actually overstepped and exceeded the competence of this commission, and gave his personal assessment," Mutko said. The report was, he said, "baseless" and "really fictional."
Another state news agency, TASS, took a more balanced approach, headlining its story: "Russian sports under WADA attack: 'raw' or are the hard-hitting accusations true?"
But in a sign Tuesday that the allegations had found their mark, sports ministry officials pledged to work with WADA. "The commission has done a lot of work, and its recommendations will help Russia further improve its anti-doping systems," the sports ministry said in a statement.
The WADA report, put together after allegations of doping first reported in an investigative documentary aired by German network ARD, said it uncovered a "deeply rooted culture of cheating." It suggested Russia should be suspended from competition and barred from next summer's Rio Olympics unless it cleans up its approach.
Nov. 12, 2:30 pm Updated to clarify Russia Today's status with regard to the Russian government.