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