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New tests find Russian athletes positive

Do Not UseDo Not Use 24/05/2016

The Russian Olympic Committee has said 14 of its athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics tested positive for doping during re-tests of their samples.

Sports minister Vitaly Mutko said the news of the positive tests "certainly doesn't look good".

But speaking to BBC sports editor Dan Roan in Moscow, Mr Mutko said the results were "not an objective picture" of Russia's doping situation.

The country's athletes are currently banned from international competition.

In a statement (in Russian), it said it had received the information in "official documents" from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC earlier said up to 31 athletes could be banned from the Rio Games.

The Russian Athletics Federation said any athlete found to have used doping in previous years would not go to Rio.

It said it took "such a tough decision" in order to do everything possible that only "clean athletes" could take part at the 5-21 August event.

Mr Mutko told BBC Sport: "Take into account the fact the Russian national team is the second biggest after the USA - so this doesn't give an objective picture of the doping situation in Russia."

But asked if he expected Russian athletes to go to Rio when a final decision is made by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), expected on 17 June, the minister replied: "The IAAF is also to blame - they partly covered [up] the Russian athletes who were doping and their task is not to punish, not to sanction.

"The priority for them must be the development of track and field worldwide and you cannot achieve that with punishment. It would be useless.

"It damages hugely the reputation and image of track and field. It would decrease the popularity of the sport in Russia. Kids would not want to do track and field."

Mr Mutko said if Russia was banned it would be "a huge disappointment."

The Russian Olympic Committee said it would not name 14 athletes from three sports disciplines until their B samples had been checked and official disciplinary proceedings had started.

However, Russia's Match TV revealed the names, saying they included 10 Olympic medallists.

It said that among them were Yulia Chermoshanskaya, who won gold in the 4x100m relay team, silver medallist javelin thrower Maria Abakumova and Anna Chicherova, who won bronze in the high jump.

Chicherova was also the gold medallist in London 2012.

Last week, the IOC announced that 454 selected doping samples from the 2008 Games had been re-tested.

The IOC said the re-tests were conducted using the very latest methods of scientific analysis.

Earlier this month, a whistleblower alleged Russian secret service agents helped to protect drug cheats at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, although the Russian authorities denied the claims.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) is now investigating those allegations and has appointed former Interpol agent and French Gendarmerie Major Mathieu Holz to lead the inquiry.

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