The Kremlin on Wednesday expressed regret over the country’s tennis star Maria Sharapova testing positive for a banned drug at the Australian Open but insisted this was an isolated case.
“Of course the Kremlin knows (about the case), the sports ministry gives us information,” Kremlin press spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
“We regret this, but at the same time this situation should not be projected onto the whole of Russian sport.
“The situation should not be presented in such a way that it somehow throws a shadow onto Russian sport, on the magnificent achievements of our athletes.”
“We’re talking about individual athletes, individual cases.”
Sharapova confessed on Monday that she had tested positive for Meldonium, a drug she said she had been taking since 2006 but that was only added to the banned list this year by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The former world number one said a change in the WADA’s banned list for 2016 led to an inadvertent violation, for which she will be “provisionally suspended” by the International Tennis Federation.
The Russian said she originally began taking Meldonium for a variety of symptoms, including a tendency to become ill often, an irregular ECG heart test and a family history of diabetes.
Sharapova’s case comes at a time when Russian athletes are banned from competing internationally after an independent commission chaired by former WADA president Dick Pound found evidence last year of state-sponsored doping in the country.
She is not the only Russian sports star to have fallen foul of the new status of Meldonium.
Russia’s state-run agency TASS reported on Tuesday that volleyball international Alexander Markin, speed skating world champion Pavel Kulizhnikov and short track Olympic champion Semen Yelistratov have also tested positive for Meldonium.
And 2014 Olympic ice skating champions Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev have also tested positive for the drug, as has cyclist Eduard Varganov, of the Katusha team.
Peskov, meanwhile, added that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has previously urged the sports officials to look at each doping case “as openly as possible and in full cooperation with the relevant international structures.”
“We are convinced it will be the same way this time,” Peskov said, adding he condemned any attempt to make the doping case about politics.
“As before we are convinced and consistent supporters of the idea that sport should stay outside politics,” Peskov said.
“Attempts to politicise sport, to make sport a political instrument to achieve some aim or other are destructive for sport, for international sport, and are unacceptable and unforgivable,” he said.