March 26, 2016 1:09 pm

Russian minister calls for doping leaks to be criminalized

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko speaks during a ceremony marking a start of 500 days countdown to the FIFA Confederations Cup in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016.

AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev
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MOSCOW – Russia’s sports minister said Saturday he plans to make it illegal for officials to report that an athlete has failed a drug test.

Vitaly Mutko told Russia’s state sports broadcaster that leaking the name of an athlete who has failed a drug test causes “noise and uproar” and violates the presumption of innocence.

“The federation immediately leaks the information to a media outlet,” he said.

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“We’re now going to administratively and criminally forbid it.”

Athletes provide an “A” and “B” sample when they are tested and if the “A” sample is positive, can request the “B” sample is tested too. While some athletes have been cleared of doping when a “B” sample comes back negative, such instances are rare.

READ MORE: WADA to examine claims of Russian doping in swimming

Mutko accused Russian sports federations of routinely leaking drug test results before “B” samples are tested. If an athlete’s name is leaked and they are later cleared, “everyone’s already forgotten that he was justified,” he said.

Russia has faced numerous doping scandals in recent years, including a spate of cases this year involving the recently banned endurance-boosting drug meldonium.

READ MORE: Sharapova’s positive drug test doesn’t reflect Russia sport: Kremlin

Many of those cases were officially announced by Russian sports federations when athletes first tested positive or leaked to state news agencies by anonymous sources. Tennis star Maria Sharapova was among several athletes to voluntarily state they had tested positive for meldonium in an “A” sample.

Mutko said Saturday that at least 27, and perhaps as many as 30, Russians had tested positive for meldonium since it was banned Jan. 1, about a third of all cases worldwide.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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