It comes as Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko continues to threaten legal action against Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow Laboratory who has claimed up to 15 Russian medal winners at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi were doping.Rodchenkov claimed in The New York Times that a doping system in place throughout the Winter Olympic Games was so effective it ran like a “Swiss Watch”.This included the development of a “three-drug cocktail” of banned steroids which were mixed with alcohol and given to Russian athletes, he claims, as well as a covert system to replace the urine of affected medal winners with clean samples using soda containers and baby bottles.Mutko, the Kremlin and those accused of doping have all strongly denied all allegations and argue that, as someone who has left the country, Rodchenkov’s claims have no credibility.”We’ll take a decision [on legal action] today or tomorrow after the legal service of the Sports Ministry makes a conclusion,” Mutko told Russia’s official news agency TASS.”Such a task has already been assigned to it and several law firms have been involved in the effort.”I admit [there is] the possibility of filing a lawsuit either from the Ministry or from athletes – we’ll see.”Writing in The Sunday Times, Mutko admitted to being “sorry” and “ashamed” about Russian doping which has resulted in the All-Russian Athletic Federation being suspended by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) following allegations of systemic and state-sponsored illegal drug use.There are indications, however, that sporting opinion is hardening against the ban being lifted in time for Rio 2016, with The Times in London reporting today that IAAF Council members are increasingly sceptical that the required changes are being made.The call from St. Petersburg Senator Vadim Tyulpanov is interesting given this context, but it is not yet clear how much high level backing there is for such a move, or how effective it would be in practice.Officials guilty of orchestrating doping could face reported fines of up to RUB ₽200,000 (£2,150/$3,100/€2,700), up to one year of “correction labour” or up to one year of “limited personal freedom” for violating the rules on the sale or transportation of any drugs that contain substances banned for use in sports, according to reports.Coaches, medics or other members of the athletes’ entourage could face even harsher punishments, including five years in jail and fines in line with their income over a three year period.Tyulpanov told Izvestia Daily that this move is connected with the “string of scandals resulting from the revelations of doping use by top Russian athletes”, especially because, “in many such cases, coaches and medics have pressed the athletes they were working with into using banned substances”.Passing the new ruling could “preserve the athletes’ health, observe the moral norms accepted in sports and boost the prestige of Russian athletes on the international arena”, he claimed.
“It was a little bit of a tricky game. International break, 12.30 kick-off, a sunny day which is unusual,” said Guardiola.“The way we started was amazing. They surprised me again, the first 15-20 minutes was exceptional.“After that the game was a bit more controlled, they had no clear chances. After the second goal the game was under control.”Guardiola’s men now lead Liverpool by a point with seven games remaining for both sides, but Jurgen Klopp’s side can retake top spot with victory over third-placed Tottenham on Sunday.“Every game we have to win if we want to be champions. We have tough opponents, but that is the challenge,” added Guardiola.Fulham, by contrast, remain 13 points adrift of safety with just 18 left to play for and failed to register a single shot on target at home for the first time in nine years.“We are realistic,” said Fulham caretaker boss Scott Parker. “The main focus in the last six games is to keep pushing and end the season on a positive in a disappointing campaign.”City remain on course for an unprecedented quadruple of Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup, which they retained last month.A potential 14 games now stand between them and history, but there will be far tougher tests in wait than a dispirited and dishevelled Fulham, who played a huge part in their downfall.Sixty points now separate the sides at opposing ends of the table and the hosts’ inability to play simple passes highlighted why they are set for the drop after just one season back in the top flight.Aguero had already seen an effort cleared off the line before Silva opened the scoring just five minutes in.Kevin de Bruyne, on his return from a month-long injury absence, intercepted a loose pass deep inside the Fulham half and fed Aguero, who in turn played the ball to Silva to curl into the far corner on his favoured left foot.De Bruyne should have scored for just the second time in an injury-plagued Premier League season when he fired too close to Sergio Rico with just the Fulham goalkeeper to beat, while the Spaniard also parried Ilkay Gundogan’s effort from the edge of the box.A second City goal seemed only a matter of time, though, and again Fulham made it easy for their visitors by coughing up possession close to their own goal.Sergio Aguero scored his 29th goal of the season against Fulham © AFP / Adrian DENNISThis time the roles were reversed as Silva slipped in Aguero who expertly found the top corner for his 29th goal of the season.City were happy to canter through the second period without expending too much energy with eight games in a 25-day period to come in April.Yet, an otherwise comfortable afternoon may have come at a cost, though, as Aguero appeared to be carrying an injury as he was replaced by Gabriel Jesus just before the hour mark.“He says he felt something. As a precaution he decided to not continue and hopefully will not be a bit issue,” added Guardiola.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Bernardo Silva opened the scoring for Manchester City at Craven Cottage © AFP / Adrian DENNISLondon, United Kingdom, Mar 30 – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admitted even he was surprised at how easily the English champions swatted aside Fulham 2-0 at Craven Cottage to climb back on top of the Premier League.City have now won their last 12 games in all competitions, but their rhythm from a two-week international break was not disrupted as goals from Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero ensured the game was won in the first 27 minutes.