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Russia denies doping data sent to WADA was falsified

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Moscow (AFP)

Russia did not doctor data on athletes' test results that it sent to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as part of attempts to clear up a long-running scandal over state-sponsored doping, Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov insisted Thursday.

Kolobkov said Russian experts had sent explanations to WADA, adding that these "experts consider nothing was removed."

Russia transferred the electronic data to WADA investigators in January. This was one of the key conditions for Russia's reinstatement by WADA.

In September, WADA asked Russia to respond to "inconsistencies" in the data saying evidence of some positive tests handed over by a whistleblower does not show up in the data.

Russia risks being declared non-compliant by WADA if it fails to explain how this happened.

President Vladimir Putin said in October that Russia is "actively cooperating with WADA" and the "requirements presented by this organisation are being fully complied with."

"These are purely technical questions linked to the way the system is organised," Kolobkov insisted.

"I'm sure these questions will be explained," he added.

Experts from Russia and WADA are due to meet soon.

Russia was banned for three years from competing in several international competitions over state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015, missing the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016 and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

In September 2018, WADA made the controversial decision to provisionally reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency under the condition that the Russian authorities provide the data and samples.

"We are doing all we can to fulfil the obligations that we committed to last September and we have fulfilled them," said Kolobkov.

WADA is currently holding its world conference in the Polish city of Katowice and the scandal over Russian state-backed doping and institutionalised cheating has dominated the proceedings.

- 'Deepest point of crisis' -

Russia's sports ministry's assurances are in direct contradiction with statements by the current head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, Yuri Ganus, who has denied that his team had any involvement in falsifying data but has said that he believes there was manipulation by officials.

Kolobkov on Thursday denied those claims, saying: "There was not any manipulation as the head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, Yuri Ganus, says. That's our position."

On Thursday, Ganus contested Kolobkov's claim that the row of the data would be cleared up shortly.

"I saw the documents and questions which WADA asked (for), and I don't understand how it is possible to answer to these questions," he told AFP at the WADA conference.

Ganus, who was appointed head of RUSADA in 2017, said that he wanted Russia to compete in the Tokyo Olympics but added "we are at the deepest point of the crisis."

Outgoing WADA chief Craig Reedie has said that it is "most unlikely" that the current leadership of the anti-doping agency was involved in falsifications as it did not have access to the Moscow laboratory.

In an interview with AFP last month, Ganus blamed unnamed Russian officials for manipulating the data handed over to WADA.

Ganus also said he expected Russia to be banned from the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Kolobkov said Thursday the current controversy had nothing to do with athletes preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.

"With such questions you only make our athletes, trainers and federations nervous," he said.

He said Russia had already selected more than 100 athletes to take part in Tokyo and he expected a final total of around 400 to take part.

"We can expect good results from the Olympics," he said.

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