Russia cops to Olympics doping — with one careful exception

Russia, basically: “OK, fine, we doped athletes like crazy. But from now on, we’ll be good. Also, Putin knew nothing.”

Russian officials for the first time have admitted to mass doping in the country’s sports system, the New York Times reported, but dismissed suggestions the “institutional conspiracy” was state-sponsored — meaning backed by President Vladimir Putin and his closest associates.

The final part of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s independent report into doping in Russia this month provided exhaustive evidence of an elaborate doping scheme. Officials at the time denied it was a state-backed program.

“It’s damage control,” said Richard McLaren, the author of the WADA report. “There are a number of different labels you can put on the facts, and they take a different view of government, but it’s a bit of a vocabulary game.”

The report found more than 1,000 Russian competitors in more than 30 sports were involved in a conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests over a period of five years.

“It was an institutional conspiracy,” Anna Antseliovich, the acting director general of Russia’s anti-doping agency, told the New York Times, while adding that top officials were not involved.

More than 100 Russian athletes were barred from competing at

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