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Russia confident of Olympic participation; swimming questioned

Europe
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Berlin (dpa) - The president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) says he is confident that the country‘s athletes will not be banned from competing at the Rio Olympic Games on the day doping allegations were made against the swimming federation.

""We share a common stance with (IOC President) Thomas Bach that all clean athletes must be taking part in the Games," Alexander Zhukov, who is also a member of the IOC, said in an interview with Russian news agency Tass on Wednesday.

"This is our main task (to protect athletes)," he said. "We are working on it. Our other goal is to provide for the participation of our ‘clean athletes‘ (at the 2016 Olympics).

The Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) is currently suspended by athletics governing body IAAF over corruption and anti-doping violations, and must meet various criteria to be reinstated.

As it stands, Russian track and field athletes will not be heading to Rio.

On Wednesday Britain‘s Times newspaper alleged that Russian swimming was also guilty of numerous doping violations and covering up positive tests.

"Sergei Portugalov, the doctor who masterminded doping in Russian athletics, also pushed swimmers on the national team to take performance-enhancing drugs," it said.

And it claimed two swimmers were not punished for testing positive for the blood booster EPO, something which R-sport later reported the Russian Swimming Federation as denying.

Beckie Scott, the chairwoman of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) athletes‘ commission, was quoted by the Times as saying Russian swimming should be investigated.

"It‘s fair to say there are some high-risk sports which need to be looked at as a priority and swimming is one of them," she said.

Various Russian sports people have recently tested positive for Meldonium, a medication used to treat heart and circulatory conditions, which has been banned by WADA since January.

Swimmer Yuliya Efimova, an Olympic medal favourite in breaststroke, could be banned for life over a positive meldonium test having previously served a 16-month ban for steroids.

Russia has the worst doping record in swimming over the past decade with over 40 positive tests.

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