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Putin Denies State-Sponsored Russian Doping Despite "Mountain of New Evidence," Ongoing Investigations

Putin looks the world in the face and lies about Russian doping.
December 23, 2016, 2:32pm

On Friday Vladimir Putin gave his yearly press conference. Think of it as the Russian State of the Union, only in a Q&A format and with less pomp and circumstance. He made a number of comments about all the expected things: the Russian military (strong), taxes (flat), his bromance with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (based on "traditional values"). He also took some time to comment on the enormous, state-sponsored doping program that has slowly been uncovered over the last couple years. The AP's Rob Harris put the goods on Twitter.

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Putin just now: 'We have never had a doping problem in Russia. This is just impossible, unthinkable. We will never do anything like that…

— Rob Harris (@RobHarris)December 23, 2016

It's a breathtaking statement, given the evidence we now have to the contrary.

In addition to the evidence first uncovered in 2014 by German documentarian Hajo Seppelt in his award-winning film Geheimsache Doping, we now have two official reports from the World Anti-Doping Association. The evidence presented in the first was enough to ban more than 350 Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics and Paralympics. The second, published earlier this month, adds to the story, a "mountain of new evidence" that the New York Times called "astounding." The sum of it all is a conspiracy laid bare—one including the sports ministry and the Russian intelligence services—which, of course, makes it even more astounding that Putin could stand in front of the world and say it's all bullshit.

Read More: VICE Sports Q&A: The Reporter who Broke the Biggest Doping Scandal

Putin: 'There is no govt supported doping programme in Russia. Like any other country we have problems with doping & …we should fight it'

— Rob Harris (@RobHarris)December 23, 2016

Putin then shit on WADA, which, although an organization with its own problems, was probably hacked by Russian intelligence.

Putin calls from transparency from @wada_ama: 'Why are they so secretive?' (World Anti-Doping Agency says hacked by Russians)

— Rob Harris (@RobHarris)December 23, 2016

Putin went on to blame Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Russia's anti-doping laboratory turned whistleblower, whom the Russian leader painted as a kind of rogue troublemaker who besmirched his country's athletics.

Anyway, like I said, astounding—but not exactly surprising. Putin is hardly the only world leader of late to stand in front of his people and the world and either lie or present an alternate view that is completely devoid of facts (Trump on Russian hacking, anyone?).

At least, in this case, the lies and contradictions are not dangerous but simply face-saving. They're also kind of hilarious. Here's how Harris ended his Twitter report:

As Putin spoke, the IOC opened disciplinary cases against 28 Russian athletes over evidence urine samples manipulated at 2014 Sochi Olympics

— Rob Harris (@RobHarris)December 23, 2016