Russia says financing extra doping tests for athletes going to Rio

Athletes compete during the Russian Indoor Championships 2016 in Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2016. Picture taken February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is financing an additional testing programme for its track and field athletes who may compete in the Rio Olympics, a step to prove commitment to cleaning up the sport amid widespread doping allegations, the country's sports ministry said. Russia is at the heart of the biggest doping scandal in sport and its track and field athletes are suspended as a result of a probe into doping accusations, putting their participation in this year's Olympics in doubt. The ministry said late on Friday that Russian athletes who may be competing in Rio would now be tested at least three times by the world athletics governing body IAAF, in addition to all the anti-doping tests they may have to undergo in the normal course of their preparations. All samples will be collected by foreign companies and analysed in laboratories accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), while planning of those tests will be carried out by UKAD, Britain's anti-doping agency, the ministry said. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia supports investigations into doping allegations, adding that he hoped the focus on his country was not politically-motivated. (Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Writing by Maria Kiselyova, editing by Ed Osmond)

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