NEWS
11/13/2015 08:15 EST | Updated 11/13/2016 00:12 EST

In effort to avoid ban from competition, Russians offer 'broad co-operation' on doping reforms

MOSCOW — In an effort to avoid a ban from track and field, Russia offered "broad co-operation" on doping reforms on Friday, including the creation of a new anti-doping agency.

Track's governing body is to decide later Friday on whether to suspend Russia from competition following a World Anti-Doping Agency commission's report that alleged a vast state-sponsored doping program. That would be the first step toward banning Russia's track team from next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

While Russia remains sharply critical of the report, senior officials have become increasingly focused on reconciliation.

"We are prepared to re-certify the laboratory, or to reform, or to create a new anti-doping organization," Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told Russia's R-Sport news agency on Friday. "We're prepared for broad co-operation."

It was not immediately clear whether the proposed new organization would replace Russia's national drug-testing laboratory or the country's national anti-doping agency, both of which were accused in Monday's report of covering up failed tests by Russian athletes.

Mutko told Russian news agencies that he has asked WADA president Craig Reedie to provide a "road map" that the country could follow. He also said it was possible that Russia would take some action itself ahead of Friday night's decision.

Mutko said he wanted to solve Russia's doping problem once and for all.

"We can't allow ourselves to change the situation and then in a while a film comes out and there's another commission," Mutko said. "That's what is being discussed, honest joint work to bring order. We're prepared for that."

On Thursday, Mutko told The Associated Press that Russia would not boycott the Olympics, even if the track team is suspended.

In the doping report, the Russian track federation's athletes and officials were accused of "extensive" use of performance-enhancing drugs, obstructing doping tests and helping to cover up drug use.

The report concluded that the Russian track federation should be banned from competition, but Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin say that would constitute unfair collective punishment.

Clean athletes "shouldn't be held responsible" for doping by others, Putin said Wednesday.

On Thursday, IAAF vice-president Sergei Bubka told the AP that he also opposes a blanket ban.

"It is our duty to protect the clean athletes," the Ukrainian pole vault great said, drawing a parallel with his own experience of being prevented from competing at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles because of a Soviet boycott.

Bubka will be an influential voice when the IAAF's 27-member governing council holds a teleconference Friday to decide on Russia's fate.

James Ellingworth, The Associated Press