Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia's new anti-doping program will be ready in early 2017 as the country battles to clean up its scandal-tainted image.
"Every cloud has a silver lining. I am convinced the so-called doping scandal will help us to create the most advanced system to fight this evil," Putin said in his annual state of the nation address. Russia has been pressed to reform since a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) inquiry revealed evidence of state-sponsored doping that saw its athletics team and entire Paralympics squad sidelined from the Rio Olympics this year. Last month Putin signed a law that introduces prison terms for coaches and medical staff who coerce athletes into using banned performance-enhancing drugs. Accusations of state-run doping were contained in a report by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren report commissioned by WADA and released in July just before the Rio Games. A new McLaren report on Russian sport is to be released on December 9. But Russian authorities have always denied the existence of a state-run doping program and have vowed to crack down on doping. WADA leaders have said Russia needs to carry out still more changes but its deputy director Rob Koehler said last month that the reform campaign was "on the right track."
Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov has insisted the country should be allowed to take part in all international competition again. Russia is especially anxious to be readmitted to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in time for the athletics world championships in August.