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WADA hits back at Russia ‘manipulation’ attack

Russia has been banned from international athletics since last year following one WADA investigation which found widespread doping © AFP/File / Gabriel Bouys

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Nov 11The World Anti-Doping Agency hit back Friday at Russia’s claims of “manipulation” by the global body and warned that Russia is still not at international doping norms.

WADA was infuriated after Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov told an International Olympic Committee meeting this week that the drug agency was “an instrument for manipulation” as he pleaded for Russia’s doping agency to be allowed to operate again.

WADA spokesperson Maggie Durand insited that the agency is a “transparent and neutral organisation”. She indicated that Russia still has work to do to complete a full return to international sport.

Russia, hit by accusations of state-sponsored doping in a WADA investigation, hired two international experts in April to help overhaul the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).

“The ball remains very much in RUSADA’s camp to commit to the required reforms in order to ensure the agency acts independently and without external interference, and to ensure that a doping-free culture is allowed to flourish in Russian sport,” said Durand in a statement to AFP in response to Zhukov’s comments.

Russia has been banned from international athletics since last year following one WADA investigation which found widespread doping.

More than 110 Russian competitors from athletics and other sports were banned from the Rio Olympics after Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren found “state-sponsored” doping.

Zhukov said that with an operational RUSADA Russia now faces missing the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

It remains uncertain whether Russia will be allowed at the World Athletics Championships in London in August.

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Zhukov’s comments came ahead of the release of McLaren’s final report, expected in early December, and international wrangling over how to reform WADA.

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