Russia has criticized a major US media outlet over a report in which it quoted one its anti-doping agency officials as admitting that a conspiracy to dope in the country existed. It said her words had been distorted.
Russia's anti-doping agency, RUSADA, said in a statement posted on its English-language website on Wednesday that in an interview with "The New York Times" published one day earlier, its acting director general, Anna Antseliovich, had been "misquoted and her words were taken out of the context."
It went on to say that in the interview that Antseliovich had given to the newspaper, she had merely pointed out that in his second report on doping in Russia, published on December 9, Canadian sports lawyer had not used the words "state-sponsored system of doping" as he had in his first report, but instead used the words "institutional conspiracy."
This, the RUSADA statement said, meant that McLaren, whose investigations were commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), had excluded "potential involvement of the top country officials."
It went on to say that by taking the official's words of context, "The New York Times" had created the impression the RUSADA had admitted to the existence of an international doping conspiracy and cover-up in Russia, something that it had "no authority to admit or deny."
The Kremlin also questioned the authenticity of the quotes, with its spokesman "categorically" denying such doping allegations.
"First time admission"
In its article, which was datelined Moscow, "The New York Times" reported that "for the first time" Russia had conceded that officials had used the program to cheat, and it quoted Astseliovich as saying "it was an institutional conspiracy." However, she and others interviewed denied that doping in Russia was "state sponsored" and stressed that it was conducted without the approval or knowledge of President Vladimir Putin.
In his first report, released in July, McLaren said Russia had put in place a well-organized scheme to manipulate tests of Russian athlete's samples ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.
That report led WADA to recommend that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ban all Russian athletes from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. However, the IOC declined to issue a blanket ban, choosing instead to leave it up to the governing bodies of the individual sports to decide whether Russian athletes would be allowed to compete.
Since the second report, the IOC has opened 28 disciplinary proceedings against Russian athletes whose urine samples thought to have been tampered with in Sochi. Russia has also lost the right to host next year's bobsleigh and skeleton world championships, a biathlon World Cup round that was to have been held in February, as well as a World Cup speedskating event scheduled for March.