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Russia likely to miss 2016 Olympics, Euro official says

A view through a fence, decorated with the Olympic rings, shows a building of the federal state budgetary institution "Federal scientific centre of physical culture and sports", which houses a laboratory accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), in Moscow, Russia, November 11, 2015.

REUTERS

Russia, an Olympics powerhouse, is likely to miss the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, the head of Europe's top sports body said Tuesday.

Russia was banned indefinitely by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) recently after a commission by the World Anti-Doping Agency uncovered widespread doping among its athletes. The report also claimed the Russian government was complicit in a well-organized program to give its competitors a chemical edge in competitions.

In an interviewer with Athletics Weekly magazine, European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen said there is probably too little time for the Russian sports federation to meet the various verification criteria required by the IAAF to return to competition.

"For the moment they have to fulfil the conditions, but I cannot really see them competing in Rio," Hansen said in the interview. "We will have the first report to the IAAF in March but for the moment they have to really, really put a lot of effort in to compete in Rio. They must have a cultural change. They must get rid of all those people from before."

An IAAF taskforce will visit Russia for the first time on Jan. 10-11 next year to inspect the response to the doping scandal which caused it to be banned.

It was suspended in November after a World Anti-Doping Agency commission, led by Dick Pound, exposed widespread, systematic and allegedly state-sanctioned doping.

Rune Anderson, independent chairman of the taskforce, says "we have established a good working relationship as the basis of our future discussions and meetings."

Russia has rejected the allegations, but President Vladimir Putin ordered Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko and "all colleagues connected with sport" to pay close attention to the doping allegations and for an internal investigation to be conducted -- one that guaranteed full cooperation with international anti-doping bodies.

"The struggle with doping in sports, unfortunately, remains a pressing issue and it requires unending attention," he said.

However, Putin also drew a clear distinction with clean athletes.

"It's absolutely clear that athletes who stay away from dope ... shouldn't be held responsible" for those who use performance enhancing drugs, he said.