Russia prepares education campaign to tackle doping in sport
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will roll out an educational campaign to promote fair play in sport as it cleans up after a series of doping scandals, the sports ministry said on Monday.
Russia was suspended from world athletics in November after an international investigation uncovered damning evidence of widespread doping and corruption. It is trying to convince sports authorities it is serious about rooting out cheats as it waits to hear on June 17 whether its track and field stars will be allowed to compete at the Rio Olympics in August.
The ministry said reforms due to start next year would include educating sports and medical professionals on "the values of sport, with an emphasis on fair play, with the message that doping is unacceptable. All higher education institutions for professionals in the fields of sport and medicine will teach an anti-doping class."
In a further step, lessons on anti-doping will be rolled out in schools across the country.
"It is about instilling the right values from the outset, but we hope this initiative will be supported by wider society as this is a change that all Russians must embrace," said Natalia Zhelanova, anti-doping adviser to the minister of sport.
In a further blow to Russia's sporting reputation, former anti-doping official Grigory Rodchenkov said last month that it ran a sophisticated operation at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics to protect its dope cheats by substituting clean urine samples for tainted ones. Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko called his account absurd.
Re-examinations of samples taken at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Summer Olympics have cast suspicion on 22 Russian athletes, but one of them, London high jump champion Anna Chicherova, has been cleared after testing of her B-sample.
The International Olympic Committee said last week it would target Russia, Mexico and Kenya for drugs testing before the Rio Games starting on Aug. 5.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)