Russia defiant in face of doping scandal in athletics
Kremlin dismisses accusations as groundless but a rapid response is likely from that country's track and field federation to avoid suspension from the Rio Olympic Games
Russia rejected explosive accusations of doping and corruption and promised a rapid response to avoid suspension from the 2016 Olympics due to the scandal that threatens to spread far beyond Russia - and athletics.
"Until any proof has been put forward it is hard to accept any accusations as they seem rather groundless," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Meanwhile, the Moscow anti-doping laboratory was on Tuesday stripped of its accreditation by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) in the first concrete measure taken since the publishing of a damning report by a Wada independent commission.
Athletics was rocked by allegations of Russian "state-sponsored" doping contained in the report published on Monday.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe has given the Russian athletics federation (ARAF) "until the end of the week" to respond or risk possible suspension.
Despite the Kremlin's dismissive reaction, the ARAF assured Coe it would contact the IAAF "in the very near future" outlining its anti-doping programme and "its reaction to the deductions and conclusions" in Wada's report.
Calls for Russia, fourth in the 2012 London Olympics medal table, to be banned from the Rio Games are growing.
UK Athletics chief Ed Warner told BBC Radio 4: "Lord Coe ... says that his council is meeting on Friday or Saturday to consider sanctioning Russia and possibly to suspend them. My strong advice would be: you've absolutely got to do that."
Worryingly according to Wada, the athletics scandal is by no means confined to Russia nor athletics.
"Russia is not the only country, nor athletics the only sport, facing the problem of orchestrated doping in sport," the report, triggered by German broadcaster ARD's documentary last December, warned.
Wada's independent commission chairman Dick Pound added: "We certainly do not think that Russia is the only country with a doping problem and we don't think athletics is the only sport with a doping problem."
According to several anti-doping specialists, the risk of abuse is especially high in countries with strong rulers. "Frauds like this can only be state-run with secret service involvement," one specialist said.
He raised the case of China, recalling that in the build-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics a German reporter posed as a swimming coach in search of finding ways to improve performance.
"He didn't have to wait long before go-betweens were offering him genetic manipulation kits for €30,000 [HK$248,700]"
ARD's documentary claimed a third of the 146 world and Olympic medals awarded between 2001 and the 2012 London Olympics, featuring 18 Kenyans, were tainted by suspicions of doping.
The Wada report called for five Russian athletes - including 800m Olympic winner Mariya Savinova - to be given lifetime bans, suggesting the presence of doped athletes had "sabotaged" the London Games.
Moscow's sports minister said Rusia had done everything that was asked by international groups. "We invested colossal funds into building a laboratory, we did everything that was recommended to us... we pay a million dollars every year to Wada ... what else do we need to do?" Vitaly Mutko told state television.