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Russian court throws out lawsuits over doping film

By The Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 9, 2015 at 11:21 a.m.

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MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court has thrown out two lawsuits against the makers of German TV documentaries which alleged that doping was widespread in Russian athletics.

The lawsuits were filed by Russia's athletics federation and its ex-president Valentin Balakhnichev, who doubles as the treasurer of the IAAF, athletics' world governing body.

They claimed their "honor and dignity" had been damaged by films made by German TV channel ARD, which alleged that some federation officials encouraged Russian athletes to dope and that anti-doping officials covered up positive tests to protect star Russian athletes.

Russian media reported that both lawsuits were rejected by the court in the city of Samara on Wednesday. No reasoning was given and Balakhnichev told Russian media he did not know why his case had been thrown out.

Artyom Patsev, a lawyer representing both Balakhnichev and the federation, told Russia's Tass agency that he was appealing both rulings. The cases were directed against ARD, filmmaker Hajo Seppelt and Russian athletics coach Oleg Popov, who appeared in an ARD film discussing doping.

A separate case last week saw two Russian journalists and their employers fined after a court in Moscow ruled they had damaged the Russian Anti-Doping Agency's reputation by publishing articles based on interviews with Vitaly Stepanov, a former agency official who alleges that it covered up doping by Russian athletes in many sports.

The testimony of Stepanov and his wife Yulia Stepanova, an athlete, is a major element underpinning ARD's allegations.

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