Russian team set for Olympics despite ban calls over doping claims

The Kremlin has insisted Russian athletes are still focused on competing at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro despite calls for the entire Russian delegation to be banned over doping.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has called for a blanket ban after a report on Monday detailed a cover-up of hundreds of failed drug tests by Russian athletes, allegedly directed by government officials.

Russian team set for Olympics despite ban calls over doping claims

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "Russia is preparing for the Olympics, the Russian team is preparing for the Olympics."

Asked whether Russia would boycott the Games if it faces punishment, Mr Peskov did not answer directly, but said Russia does not want "such situations to damage the Olympic movement".

Earlier, Mr Peskov said Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko had not been suspended from duties because he is not directly accused of covering up doping.

Mr Putin said on Monday that officials named in the McLaren Report into Russian doping cover-ups would be suspended. A deputy sports minister has been removed.

While the report said much of the day-to-day administration of doping cover-ups was done by deputy minister Yuri Nagornykh and Mr Mutko's adviser, Nataliya Zhelanova, Mr Mutko is accused of having ordered a cover-up in one case, that of an unnamed foreign football player in the Russian Premier League.

Mr Mutko is one of Mr Putin's oldest allies in the government, having worked with him for more than 20 years, dating to their time together in the St. Petersburg city administration in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, the umbrella body for summer Olympic sports has indicated it is opposed to a ban for the whole Russian team.

The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), which represents the governing bodies of 28 sports on the Olympic programme, said it is "important to focus on the need for individual justice in all these cases".

However, ASOIF said it would respect a ban on a national team in a particular sport, if imposed by that sport's international federation.

That would cover the doping ban on the Russian athletics team, which was upheld by the International Association of Athletics Federations last month, or bans on several weightlifting teams, including Russia's.

ASOIF added it wants more investigation into allegations that the Russian government covered up hundreds of doping cases.

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