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German TV says Russian athletics doping still ongoing

Russia hasn't stopped its state-sponsored sports doping despite an international ban against its track and field athletes, German public television ARD reported Wednesday.

German TV says Russian athletics doping still ongoing
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko. Photo: DPA

According to the documentary seen by AFP before it was to be aired later Wednesday, Russian authorities have been covering up for coaches disgraced by the doping programme.

The investigation by public broadcaster ARD also points directly at Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko for his alleged involvement in the cover-up.

The programme comes just days before world athletics governing body IAAF is set to rule on whether to reinstate the Russian athletics federation ahead of the August 5-21 Rio Olympics.

Russia's sports ministry on Tuesday evening released a pre-emptive statement in response to the documentary, insisting it is making extensive efforts to develop a transparent and independent anti-doping strategy.

The Kremlin has also warned that it would treat unfounded allegations about doping as “absolute slander”.

But the documentary titled “The Secret World of Doping: Showdown for Russia” screened footage dated April 27 showing that the former chief trainer for the speed walking team, Viktor Chegin, was still involved in the training of national athletes, even though he had been banned for life over doping convictions.

Among athletes undergoing training were Olga Kaniskina and Sergey Kirdyapkin, both of whom had been stripped in March of their Olympic medals because of doping.

Based on documents of the former boss of the anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistle-blower who has fled to the United States, ARD noted that Russia's sports ministry advisor Natalia Zhelanova was “permanently interfering (in) everyday operation of anti-doping agency Rusada”.

The TV programme also documented an email exchange between an anti-doping laboratory and the sports ministry over the positive results in August 2014 of a footballer from the club Krasnodar.

Asked if it should “wait for the decision from VL” before publishing the results, the laboratory was given the answer yes from the ministry.

According to ARD, VL signified the initials of the sports minister – Vitaly Leontyevitch Mutko.

Three Krasnodar players count among Russia's team at the European Championships in France, opening their campaign against England on Saturday.

ARD's December 2014 documentary “Secret Doping Dossier: How Russia produces its Winners” had first brought Russia's doping scandal to light.

It has also touched off investigations that led to a raft of Russian athletes being stripped of their Olympic medals.

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UKRAINE

German football club ends partnership with Russia’s Gazprom

German football club Schalke 04 announced Monday it had prematurely ended its partnership with Russian gas giant Gazprom following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

German football club ends partnership with Russia's Gazprom

The deal between the second-tier German club and Gazprom had been due to run until 2025 with Schalke receiving around €9 million ($10 million) per year in sponsorship.

Had the Gelsenkirchen-based club won promotion back to the Bundesliga at the end of this season, the sponsorship figure would have risen to €15 million annually.

Schalke had already removed the Gazprom logo from their shirts for Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Karlsruhe.

In a statement, Schalke said their finances were “unaffected by this decision”.

“The club’s management is confident that it will be able to present a new partner in the near future.”

READ ALSO: OPINION: Germany has scuppered Nord Stream 2 but there are questions left to answer

Gazprom representative Matthias Warnig resigned from the club’s supervisory board last Thursday.

Hans-Joachim Watzke, interim president of the German Football Association (DFB), had already hinted there could be financial aid for Schalke if they split from Gazprom.

“If this requires the solidarity of other clubs in Germany to get them out of this situation, then we have to discuss how we can manage that,” Watzke told ZDF.

READ ALSO: Germany set to shut airspace to Russian planes on Sunday

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