Russian Federation admits to large-scale sports doping scheme - maybe

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Russian officials continue to reject the accusation that the doping program was state-sponsored, which would implicate President Vladimir V. Putin and his closest associates. The acting director of Russia's anti-doping agency Rusada says there is evidence of "institutional conspiracy".

The World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Independent Commission, chaired by Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren, conducted an investigation into the doping allegations in Russian sports and eventually came up with two parts to his report, the first delivered in July and the second in early December. They were referring to a summation of the previously published McLaren report on Russian doping, RUSADA said. When word of the far-reaching doping scandal first got out, Putin immediately went on the defensive, denying all allegations of Russian officials' involvement.

"It was an institutional conspiracy", Anna Antseliovich, the acting head of the Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA), told the newspaper of a program that included cover-ups of positive tests across dozens of summer and winter Olympic sports.

Sports officials admitted in recent interviews with the New York Times that they no longer dispute damning reports that lab directors, sports ministers and even Federal Security Service members were in on the sweeping operation. But she denied that top government officials played a role.

Vitaly Smirnov, a former sports minister and Russian Olympic Committee president chosen by Putin to oversee reforms in Russian sports, told The New York Times that "we made a lot of mistakes".

"It was an institutional conspiracy", Anna Antseliovich was reported as telling the United States newspaper in an article datelined from Moscow.

"We have naturally denied any state, state services' or bodies' involvement in the possible doping use by athletes".

Russian Federation recognized for the first time through one of its officers charged with the fight against doping, the existence of a widespread doping system, New York Times informs, quoted by AFP.

The affair reverberated through the 2016 Rio Olympics and has continued to be felt as winter sports events such as next year's bobsleigh and skeleton world championships and biathlon and speed skating World Cup stops have been withdrawn from the country.