President Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for a decision on inclusion in the 2016 Rio Olympics to be a fair one. Rough Cut - Subtitled (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - SUBTITLED (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday (April 14) during his annual telethon that the drug meldonium should never have been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and that he would fight for Russian athletes affected by the recently imposed ban. "This drug has never been seen as doping. It does not effect - and this is for sure - the results. It just supports the heart muscle, to keep it in good shape, during very acute exercise. For some reason they decided to include it," Putin said. His comments come as the WADA appears to be backtracking on its ban. The agency announced that it was unable to establish how quickly the drug cleared the human body, giving some athletes who tested positive for the drug hope that their bans could be overturned. WADA said there was a lack of clear scientific information on excretion times. "As a result it is difficult to know whether an athlete may have taken the substance before or after January 1, when it became illegal," WADA said in a statement sent to anti-doping agencies and sports federations. "In these circumstances, WADA considers that there may be grounds for no fault or negligence on the part of the athlete," it said, adding that the presence of less than one microgram of meldonium in the samples was acceptable. Putin said that based on the recent revelation by WADA that his country will fight for a fair decision on the inclusion of Russian athletes in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. "And of course we will fight for the decisions to be fair. The Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation, our sports organisations, cooperate with good lawyers on an international level and look at all aspects of this problem," Putin said. There were 172 athletes, including 40 Russians, who failed dope tests for meldonium after it was added to WADA's list of banned substances in January. They include five-times grand slam tennis champion Maria Sharapova.