20 Days Remaining

Saturday 2nd
posted by Morning Star in Sport

RUSSIAN Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko accused Western media of “distorting reality” and “trampling” over his nation in at a press conference yesterday ahead of the 2018 football World Cup draw in Moscow.

The chairman of the World Cup organising committee said he did not want to speculate about Tuesday’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision on Russian involvement at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

The IOC is set to announce whether Russia will be sanctioned for running a state-sponsored doping programme between 2011 and 2015, with recent revelations suggesting Russians will only be allowed to compete in Pyeongchang as neutral athletes.

But having said he really wanted to talk about football, the ex-sports minister proclaimed Russia’s innocence and denounced the flaws in the case against his country and doping elsewhere.

“I’m happy to go to any court or disciplinary committee. There has never been any state-sponsored doping in Russia,” he said.

“We do not need to do that and we have never done it. Let’s openly display all the facts.

“We are playing by the rules,” he insisted.

Mutko asked why nobody was investigating the anti-doping laboratory in Los Angeles, which recently lost its World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) accreditation, or the allegations of doping in Norwegian biathlon or British football.

When a New York Times journalist asked if he should resign, Mutko accused the paper of “distorting reality.”

The New York Times revealed last week that Dr Grigory Rodchenkov — the main whistle-blower in the case against Russia, who also fled Moscow in November 2015 — had given the IOC and Wada his diary, which seemingly corroborates his earlier testimony, the forensic testing the organisations have carried out on Russian samples and the electronic record of all the tests conducted by the Moscow lab for nearly four years.

Mutko, however, said: “We believe in due process and the presumption of innocence. Has any of this evidence been validated?

“What is this fashion for collective punishments?

“Let any individual caught cheating be punished.”