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Russia Still Not Compliant With Sports Doping Regulations


Russia's sports programs have come under international scrutiny for illegal doping since the country hosted the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014, and today the World Anti-Doping Agency said Russia was still not in compliance with its regulations. NPR's Lucian Kim reports from Moscow the ruling puts the country's participation in the next Winter Olympics in doubt.

LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: The president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Sir Craig Reedie, announced the decision in Seoul, South Korea, today. He said RUSADA, as Russia's Anti-Doping Agency is known, had failed to meet international code.


CRAIG REEDIE: We regret that RUSADA is not yet compliant. It would be better, from our point of view, that they were.

KIM: Reedie said Russia had made huge technical improvements, but was still denying access to blood and urine samples and refusing to admit that the government had sponsored a doping program in the past. The ruling was top news in Russia, where the country's international sporting status is an object of national pride.



KIM: A well-choreographed show with a predictable ending - that's how Russian state television described the decision. The TV news said Russia was being unfairly targeted and the victim of behind-the-scenes intrigue. Alexander Zhukov, the head of Russia's Olympic Committee, called the ruling politicized.


ALEXANDER ZHUKOV: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: Zhukov said it looked like artificial conditions were being invented to prevent Russia from coming into line with anti-doping rules. He denied the Russian government had ever run a doping program. The issue will dominate a meeting by the International Olympic Committee in December. That's when the IOC will decide whether Russia should be allowed to participate in the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The World Anti-Doping Agency tried to get all Russian athletes kicked out of last summer's Rio Olympics, but the IOC left it up to individual sports federations. Last week, President Vladimir Putin suggested the United States is trying to block Russia from taking part in the Olympics.



KIM: Talking to workers during a visit to a factory in Chelyabinsk, Putin said he suspected the U.S. was using the doping scandal to create problems before Russia's presidential election in March. Putin said, the Americans imagine that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election last year, and this is their response. Lucian Kim, NPR News, Moscow.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE XX SONG, "ISLANDS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lucian Kim is NPR's international correspondent based in Moscow. He has been reporting on Europe and the former Soviet Union for the past two decades.