By Duncan Mackay

September 17 - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have offered to help Russia deal with its drugs problems which has seen the Olympic super-power embroiled in a series of scandals involving some of its top athletes, its chairman John Fahey revealed today.

Fahey admitted that the WADA were concerned at the number of cases involving Russians, especially as Sochi is due to host the 2014 Winter Olympics when there will be extra pressure on the home country to do well.

He said: "I am conscious of the number of doping cases in the past several months that involved Russian athletes, I should add it is a little troubling to see that occur."

According to Fahey, WADA has spoken to the Russian authorities and offered its help "as it would do for any country".

Both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have already expressed their concern recently at how Russia's reputation is being smeared by so many positive doping cases.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has ordered the creation of a special Government Commission to investigate the problem.

Last month Russian cross-country skiing Olympic champions Yulia Chepalova and Yevgeny Dementiev retired after testing positive for EPO (erythropoietin) at the Tour de Ski at Val di Fiemme, Italy, in January.

Chepalova (pictured), 32, won gold medals at the Winter Olympics in 1998, 2002 and 2006 and was the world champion in 2001 and 2005 and won the overall World Cup in 2001.

Dementiev, 26, won the gold medal in the 30 kilometres men's pursuit at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Another Russian skier, Nina Rysina, tested positive for EPO while competing in France in January.

In July the International Biathlon Union (IBU) suspended three Russian athletes for two years for doping violations.

Albina Akhatova, Yekaterina Iourieva and Dmitri Yaroshenko tested positive for EPO during a World Cup event last December in Ostersund, Sweden.

It followed last year's scandal when seven of Russia's top athletes were suspended on the eve of the Olympics in Beijing for manipulating a series of out-of-competiton tests.

The athletes, who included Tatyana Tomashova, the world 2003 and 2005 1500 metres world champion and Olga Yegorova, the 2001 world 5,000m gold medallist, have now all been suspended until 2011.

Arne Ljungqvist, the Swede who is chairman of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Medical Commission and also a vice-president of the WADA, claimed at the time that the Russians were guilty of "systematic planned doping".
The IBU President Anders Besseberg made a similar allegation after the cases involving the Russian skiers.

Fahey said: "No country is immune.

"We hope that Russia can become more effective with time [in stamping out the problem]."

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