Russia has stepped up efforts to have the ban on its athletes lifted in time for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro by announcing measures to tackle its doping crisis.
The country’s anti-doping system, accused of being complicit in the state-sponsored and widespread use of banned substances, is to be overseen by two independent experts.
All track and field competitors hoping to take part in the Olympics are also to be subjected to a minimum of three independently-administered anti-doping tests before the Games.
Russia was suspended by athletics world governing body the IAAF in November after a bombshell report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada). The Rio Olympics start on 5 August.
“We believe that sport must be clean and fair at all levels, from grassroots through to elite,” said sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who had previously said Russia had been scapegoated.
“We are 100 per cent supportive of Wada’s efforts, alongside the International Olympic Committee and IAAF and other organisations, to stamp out cheating.
“Russia is implementing all necessary reforms. Clean athletes’ dreams must not be allowed to be destroyed because of other people’s mistakes. This is an important step in our journey.”
The two independent experts are to be nominated by Wada and will be granted unfettered access to ensure anti-doping operations are “free of undue interference”, Russia’s ministry of sport added.
UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner has warned against allowing Russia to compete in Rio so soon after widespread doping has been uncovered, saying in November “You can’t just wave a magic wand.”
He added: “Sports scientists will tell you the benefits of the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs persist well beyond, for example, a two-year ban, so even if Russia is allowed back in to the Olympics next year there will be athletes lining up who may or may not have served bans, or may never have been caught.”