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Olympics ban would be attempt to harm Russia's image: Sports Minister

11 November 2015 - 12:37 By REUTERS

A possible ban on Russian athletes in the 2016 Olympics would be because "some wish to remove a direct competitor and some find it beneficial to damage the country's image", Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the sports agency R-Sport. Mutko added that Russian Anti-Doping Agency would be able to prove it acted in line with the rules of a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).The doping scandal engulfing athletics dominated sports coverage across the planet on Tuesday - with one notable exception.In Russia, the slew of allegations from the World Anti-Doping Agency commission, which accused Russia of operating a state-sponsored doping programme in track and field, made the front page in only sport and two business papers."Are they taking Rio away from us?" read the headline on the front page of Sport Express, referring to calls to ban Russia's track and field team from next year's Olympics.nother sports tabloid, Sovetsky Sport, questioned on its front page whether the country's biggest athletics stars - including London 2012 800m champion Mariya Savinova - could really be guilty of doping.The reaction among Russian officials to Monday's track and field revelations was disjointed, with sentiments ranging from denial to suggestions of a Western political conspiracy.Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said: "If accusations are made, they should be reinforced by some kind of evidence ... Until some evidence is presented ... it is difficult to accept these accusations, they are quite groundless."Sport Minister Vitaly Mutko said the report was lead investigator Dick Pound's " personal assessment rather than a general assessment of the entire anti-doping activities in Russia"...

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