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1ST LEAD WADA to look into latest doping allegations against Russia By dpa correspondents

Europe
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Berlin (dpa) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has pledged to look into the latest doping allegations against Russian sports in which the New York Times reported that at least 15 medal winners from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics were doped.

"You can be sure that WADA will immediately look into these additional allegations," WADA president Craig Reedie said in a statement after a foundation board meeting Thursday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has also asked WADA to investigate.

The New York Times article was published during the meeting, with the paper quoting the former head of the Russian anti-doping lab, Grigory Rodchenkov, as saying Russian athletes submitted clean urine samples ahead of the Sochi Games which where then used to replace tainted samples taken during the Olympics, via a hole in the wall of the laboratory.

The scheme reportedly involved athletes, officials and the secret service, and Rodchenkov told the New York Times it worked "like a Swiss watch."

He said he made a cocktail of three forbidden substances which Russian athletes used to boost their performance.

Russia topped the Sochi medal table with 33 medals, 13 of them gold.

The allegations came after the CBS network on Sunday cited a Russian whistleblower, Vitaly Stepanov, that Rodchenkov told him that four Russian Olympic champions from Sochi were doped.

Stepanov is a former official of the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA and together with his wife, middle-distance runner Yuliya Stepanova, made allegations of systematic doping in Russian sports in a documentary of German network ARD broadcast in December 2014.

The ARD report, and other news reports, led to the suspension of the Russian athletics federation and RUSADA after an investigation conducted by a WADA commission, with the athletics team in danger of missing the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in summer.

Aware of the planned New York Times report, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko told the TASS news agency Wednesday that "Information attacks against the Russian sports are still underway" and insisted the Sochi drug testing was transparent and run by international experts.

Mutko said "there are no facts" as he alleged the reports came to "for instance, to influence the course of restoration of the Russian field and track athletics‘ rights. To influence improvement of our relations with WADA."

The allegations against Russia deepened a doping crisis in which the WADA foundation board Thursday also recommended declaring Kenya non-compliant which could see the famed distance runners from the east African country barred from the Rio Games.

In addition, French prosecutors said Thursday they are looking into dubious payments possibly made in connection with the awarding of the 2020 Olympics in which the IOC elected Tokyo over Madrid and Istanbul.

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