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Kremlin says unfounded doping allegations ‘absolute slander’

Moscow will treat unfounded allegations about doping in Russian sport as “absolute slander,” the Kremlin said Wednesday, as Russia remains embroiled in a scandal that could see its athletes miss the Rio Olympics.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was not “ready to accept any unfounded allegations, any unfounded accusations” regarding doping in the country.

“We will treat this like absolute slander,” Peskov told reporters, adding that Russia was “categorically against” the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport.

German public broadcaster ARD, which first brought the Russian doping scandal to light, is set to air later on Wednedsay new footage implicating Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko in what it described as “state-sponsored doping.”

ARD said it would present documents showing that Mutko had “prevented the publication of the doping offence of a footballer from Russia’s top league”.

Russia’s sports ministry on Tuesday evening released a preemptive statement in response to ARD’s documentary, insisting it is making extensive efforts to develop a transparent and independent anti-doping strategy.

Moscow is furiously lobbying to overturn a ban on its athletics federation, which was suspended in November over a report on state-enabled doping among Russian track and field athletes.

The sports ministry announced earlier this week that Russia will introduce compulsory anti-doping classes in school and train sports and medical professionals in an effort to “reform social attitudes” about the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The ministry in April had announced a series of new anti-doping measures, including the appointment of international experts to assist with reforms and a minimum of three additional “independent, externally administered anti-doping controls” for athletes hoping to compete in Rio.

Mutko said last month that Russia would not include athletes who in the past had committed “gross violations of anti-doping rules” on its Olympic team.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is to meet on June 17 to decide whether to reinstate Russia.

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