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05/23/17 08:59:00

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05/23 08:56 CDT After doping scandals, Putin's commission calls for change After doping scandals, Putin's commission calls for change MOSCOW (AP) --- A Russian anti-doping commission set up by President Vladimir Putin called for new measures to claw back prize money from drug cheats and to restore trust in Russian athletes. The commission, headed by 82-year-old former International Olympic Committee member Vitaly Smirnov, denies the Russian government played any role in covering up drug use, as alleged by a World Anti-Doping Agency investigator last year. However, it said rules need to be tightened and admitted some coaches were motivated to use "any means" to propel their athletes to victory. Russian dopers benefit from "a lack of mechanisms to recover income from athletes, coaches and other specialists" if they break anti-doping rules, the commission said in its report, arguing for the law to be changed to make this easier. Track athletes from other countries have complained that Russian dopers have clung onto large sums of prize money after being disqualified from major championships . Besides prize money from competitions, Russian athletes often get lavish rewards from the state. Gold medalists from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, for example, received 4 million rubles ($70,000) from a public-private fund, plus a white BMW SUV in a ceremony at the Kremlin. Regional governments also gave many apartments and, in one case, even a horse. Besides confiscating dopers' rewards, the commission called for extra drug testing, and more access for drug testers to Russia's so-called "closed cities," where some athletes train in military facilities and access for outsiders is heavily restricted. Testing athletes based there is a particular bugbear for WADA. Putin called last year for the commission to be set up and nominated Smirnov as its head, calling him a figure with an "unimpeachable" reputation. The commission says its reforms could help in "restoring trust in Russian sport in Russian and global society."
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