Putin says USA plotted doping scandal to swing Russian vote

"There are very big suspicions that all this is being done to create an atmosphere of discontent among sports fans and athletes that is necessary for someone, that the state was allegedly implicated in violations and it is responsible for this", Putin told workers of the Chelyabinsk compressor plant.

"That's what worries me: the Olympic Games should start in February, and we have presidential elections in March".

The scandal has continued to spread, despite Russian officials vehemently denying involvement into a state-sponsored system of doping.

USA intelligence agencies have accused the Kremlin of interfering in the 2016 US presidential election, and the Justice Department and at least two congressional panels are investing the alleged meddling. "In March", the Russian president said. He provided no evidence that any doping claims were fabricated and no evidence of any link between the Russian presidential election and concerns about doping ahead of the Olympics. All of the athletes received life bans from competing at the Olympic Games over allegations of doping use.

The Russian Cross-Country Ski Federation said Thursday that four cross-country skiers at the Sochi Olympics had been disqualified by the International Olympic Committee and banned from all future Olympics: Maxim Vylegzhanin, Alexei Petukhov, Yulia Ivanova and Evgenia Shapovalova. The investigation into the athletes was launched after a 2016 report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency alleging state-sponsored doping in Russian Federation from 2011 to 2015.

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The Russian president also said that the global sport associations, including the IOC, were dependent on things like sponsors and sources of advertising revenues.

"The controlling stake of it is in the USA", he added.

"Russia never has had and, I hope, will never have a system of state doping of which we are being accused", Putin said Thursday.

In May 2016, he described in an interview to The New York Times an elaborate doping scheme that he said involved dozens of Russian athletes at the Sochi Olympics.

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