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2ND LEAD Putin: Officials in WADA report will be suspended for investigation By Peter Spinella, dpa

Europe
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Moscow (dpa) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that officials accused in a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report of enabling widespread abuse of performance-enhancing drugs will be suspended for the duration of an investigation.

"Officials named in the commission‘s report as direct perpetrators will be temporarily suspended from their duties until the full completion of an investigation," Putin said in a statement, without specifically identifying such officials.

"However, so that a final decision can be made about the liability of officials, we ask the WADA commission to present more complete and objective information, based on facts, for consideration during the investigation by Russian law enforcement authorities," Putin said.

Earlier on Monday, the WADA said it uncovered a state-run system of cheating in Russia, in which doping samples were tampered with and positive drugs tests turned into negative results by doping laboratories in Moscow and Sochi.

Sharing a sentiment expressed by Putin, other senior Russian officials Russian officials condemned the report as unjustified.

"This is only words and speculation. Allegedly someone said something. There‘s nothing concrete. We want to hear facts and names confirmed with proof," Dmitry Svishchev, head of the Russian parliament‘s sports committee, told the Interfax news agency.

Svishchev said that whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov, who has admitted to involvement in a Russian state doping programme while heading Moscow‘s anti-doping laboratory, should be arrested and extradited to Russia.

Rodchenkov is believed to be living in the United States, where he made his admission and other allegations about a Russian doping programme.

"International organizations are believing gossips and fraudsters such as Rodchenkov, who himself has said he tampered with testing samples. Why hasn‘t he been arrested? He should be arrested and sent to our jurisdiction," Svishchev told state news agency TASS.

Another federal lawmaker and three-time Olympic figure-skating champion, Irina Rodnina, dismissed the report as yet another Western attempt to pressure Russia.

"This is part of a general trend. The report is akin to the sanctions against Russia," Rodnina said in comments carried by TASS.

Rodnina was referring to sanctions that Western countries imposed against Russia after it annexed a part of neighbouring Ukraine two years ago in response to what Moscow has denounced as a Western-orchestrated coup against Kiev‘s former pro-Russian president.

WADA‘s report, released in Toronto, Canada, also alleged that Russia‘s Sport Ministry and domestic intelligence service were involved in the doping programme.

In anticipation of the report earlier in the day, the Kremlin condemned a looming ban on its athletes competing in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio.

"The Kremlin believes that it is just as warranted to punish athletes convicted of doping as it is unwarranted to consider sanctions against innocent athletes who have every right to compete under the flag of their own country," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax.

"The Kremlin has been most decisive in opposing doping and considers, as a priority, measures to eliminate doping," Peskov said.

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