- Associated Press - Saturday, May 7, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) - Accusations that four Russian gold-medal winners at the Sochi Olympics used performance-enhancing drugs are just “speculation,” Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Saturday.

The allegations were made by former Russian anti-doping officer Vitaly Stepanov, who said the former head of Russia’s drug-testing lab told him he had a “Sochi List” of Russians who competed on performance-enhancing drugs, and four athletes on that list won gold medals in 2014.

Stepanov, who previously revealed widespread doping in Russian track and field, made the allegations about Sochi in an interview with “60 Minutes” due to air Sunday. An excerpt was shown Friday by “CBS Evening News.”

“Stepanov is back on his hobby horse,” Mutko told Russia’s state TASS news agency. “All of his so-called revelations are based on speculation.”

Anti-doping procedures in Sochi “took place under very tight control” and were not Russia’s responsibility, Mutko said, adding that the latest claims were part of a campaign to tarnish Russia’s reputation.

The Moscow anti-doping lab operated on-site testing facilities at the Sochi Olympics and provided staff, although it was under the supervision of the International Olympic Committee.

In November, a World Anti-Doping Agency commission said there was systematic, state-sponsored drug use on the Russian track team, in part based on information provided by Stepanov and his wife Yulia, an 800-meter runner. The track team has since been suspended from international competition.

Athletes and others have called for the WADA investigation to expand beyond track. WADA leaders have said they would consider expanding the investigation if evidence calls for it.

WADA spokesman Ben Nichols said Friday that agency leaders “will watch the (‘60 Minutes’) program with interest” but won’t comment until they’ve seen the entire thing.

The WADA Foundation Board meets next week in Montreal with an update on the commission’s investigation and enhancements to WADA’s whistleblowing policy on the agenda.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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