April 11, 2019 / 4:20 PM / 14 days ago

Russia moves to impose fines on drug cheats

FILE PHOTO: A sign is on display outside the office of Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in Moscow, Russia March 28, 2018. Picture taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s parliament on Thursday approved draft legislation that would impose fines of up to 50,000 roubles (592.23 pounds) on athletes found to have used banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Russia has been rocked by several sporting bans in recent years after international investigations found evidence of widespread, state-sponsored doping in athletics and a string of other sports.

The amendments, which envisage fines of between 30,000 and 50,000 roubles for drug cheats, must still be approved by the upper chamber of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin before they become law.

Russian legislation already considers it a crime for coaches and medical staff to coerce athletes into doping, but there have so far not been any convictions under that law.

There is currently no law in Russia that punishes athletes themselves for doping.

The Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA and Russia’s athletics federation were suspended after a 2015 report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.

Russian authorities have denied state-sponsored doping but have accepted that senior officials were involved in providing banned substances to athletes, interfering with anti-doping procedures or covering up positive tests.

RUSADA was reinstated last year by WADA, angering sports bodies and athletes around the world. Russia’s athletics federation remains suspended by the Internatioanl Association of Athletics Federations, the sport’s global governing body.

Despite the federation’s suspension, some Russian athletes — including twice world champion high jumper Maria Lasitskene and 2015 world champion hurdler Sergey Shubenkov — have been cleared to compete internationally after demonstrating they are training in a doping-free environment.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber; Editing by Ken Ferris

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