Europe

Russian media fear sports isolation after doping report

Athletes leave the Doping Control station at Sochi Olympics Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Russian officials vehemently deny the Wada findings

The immediate reaction from Russian media to the report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has been muted thus far, with limited TV coverage and only one of the mainstream dailies carrying the story on its front page.

But the recommendation by Wada that Russian athletes be banned from competing in events organized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has raised fears in the media of exclusion from the next Olympics.

'Tough measures'

There has been much indignant denial by Russian officials of the Wada findings, but the most media outlets appear to accept them.

State-owned Rossiya 24 TV, in an extensive report, quotes the All Russia Athletics Federation saying it was "already taking tough measures to wean Russian athletes off the habit of using prohibited substances".

The English-language news channel Russia Today notes the "damning report", while carrying an interview with Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko who dismisses the report's conclusions as "baseless".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko

But the government-owned daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta lashes out at IAAF President Sebastian Coe. "The hastiness with which the new president is acting is a bit surprising. If the suspects haven't been proven guilty, why rush to demand that those who are possibly guilty be punished by the IAAF Council?"

'Major row'

Business daily Vedomosti worries that Wada's "unprecedented accusations" aimed at Russian sport officials may "lead to isolation of Russian sports".

"What's happening now is a major row in the history of Russian sports," it says in a front-page editorial. Online news website Gazeta.ru agrees, calling it "a heavy blow for Russian sport".

But popular daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets comes out fighting. "Everyone's using doping but only Russia seems to get done for it", it complains. But the paper also adds that "it's hard to break with an old habit".

"We had hoped those days of doping were in the past, we thought a corner had been turned," the paper laments. "There is pain, there is shame, there is anger here today, but Russia needs to change, we have no choice", it concludes.

Olympics fear

An article in Vedomosti raises the spectre of Russian exclusion from the 2016 Rio Olympics, saying the threat is "very real indeed". This concern is echoed in the Sport Express in an article headlined "Wada versus Russia: Black Monday".

"The main question of the day is this: is it realistic for Russian light athletes to go without the Olympics?... We have two options left: dismantle practically the entire system of sport management right down to the base and try to frantically build something new, or proudly deny everything and watch Rio on television."

Another sports paper, Sovetsky Sport, blames the government for the situation. "Who spent money on professional light athletes and their brazenly maligned federation? The state," it asks and answers.

Image caption Sovetsky Sport front page carries a photo of Russian athlete Maria Savinova who Wada recommends should be given a lifetime ban

"Who now has to protect its investment? The state... it was taking care of the country's image. Now that image is going straight to hell. Not even now, but long ago. Why is the state keeping silent?"

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