Russia’s doping-tainted deputy sports minister resigns
A document signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and published Monday on a government online portal confirmed the resignation of deputy sports minister Yury Nagornykh.
Nagornykh was suspended in July after the World Anti-Doping Agency’s bombshell McLaren report revealed evidence of state-run doping in Russia and called for the country to be banned from the Rio Olympics.
The McLaren report accused Nagornykh of holding “the chief responsibility” for the elaborate cover-up of positive doping tests at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which also involved the secret service.
Four senior sports officials in addition to Nagornykh, including Natalia Zhelanova, the sports minister’s advisor on anti-doping issues, were also suspended over the report.
Medvedev formally dismissed Nagornykh on his request on October 20, according to the government site.
This was a day after sports minister Vitaly Mutko was promoted to the position of deputy prime minister in charge of sport, tourism and youth politics.
Mutko, who has emerged unscathed from scandals big and small in his eight years as sports minister, had been accused of complicity in the doping scandal, which saw Russia’s athletics team banned from Rio.
The McLaren report quoted Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov as saying it was “inconceivable” that Mutko did not know about the whole doping system.
And former WADA president Dick Pound, who headed an independent commission that probed doping in Russia, said last year it was “not possible” for Mutko to have been unaware of the vast rot in the system and “if he was aware of it, then he was complicit in it.”
Despite WADA’s claims, the Kremlin has insisted there is no hard proof of Mutko’s involvement in the scandal.
Former fencer Pavel Kolobkov, a six-time Olympic medalist, was appointed last week to take over as sports minister.
Russia narrowly escaped a blanket ban from the Rio Olympics when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in July left it up to international sports federations to determine which Russians were eligible to compete while granting itself a final say.
But its athletes were slapped with a blanket ban from the Paralympic Games over the McLaren report’s allegations.
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