Russia may sue American publication over doping story: Sports minister

Moscow: Russia will decide within the next two days on suing The New York Times, which accused the country of implementing a special doping programme at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, sports minister Vitaly Mutko said on Monday. The New York Times published an interview last week with the ex-head of Moscow's anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov who claimed that the Russian sports authorities had allegedly prepared a special doping programme for national athletes in order to win most of the medals at the home Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. The ex-doping official said some Russian Olympic gold medallists in Sochi took banned substances, reports Tass. "We'll take a decision today or tomorrow after the legal service of the Sports Ministry makes a conclusion," Mutko said. "Such a task has already been assigned to it and several law firms have been involved in the effort. I admit the possibility of filing a lawsuit either from the ministry or from athletes. We'll see," the sports minister said. According to The New York Times, the names of bobsledder Alexander Zubkov (two gold medals at the 2014 Olympics in two-and four-men bobs), skier Alexander Legkov (the gold medallist in the 50-kilometre race and the silver medallist in the relay race) and skeleton racer Alexander Tretyakov (gold) were allegedly mentioned in that "doping program". Mutko earlier said that foreign media reports on the allegedly ongoing doping abuse among Russian athletes were part of information attacks on the sports in the country. "There is nothing surprising for me about it," Mutko has said. "Information attacks against the Russian sports are still under way." The Russian Olympic team finished the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi in the first place with the overall result of 33 medals (13 gold, 11 silver and 9 bronze medals) surpassing its previous Winter Olympics record of 11 gold medals, set at the 1994 Winter Games in Norway's Lillehammer. Russian sports has been at the centre of doping-related scandals since last year. Starting this year doping control in Russian sports has been exercised by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) strictly under the supervision of the British anti-doping agency (UKAD). The World Anti Doping Agency's (WADA) Independent Commission published on November 9 last year results of its probe into the activity of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, the RUSADA and the Russian sports ministry. The commission accused certain athletes and sports officials of doping abuse and involvement in other activities related to violations of international regulations on performance enhancing substances. RUSADA and the Moscow anti-doping laboratory subsequently suspended their activities, while WADA's Board of Founders approved the finding of the agency's Independent Commission that RUSADA did not comply with the Code of the international anti-doping organization.