Russia Sets Up Agency to Catch Drug Cheats

Russia has created an independent anti-doping agency, RusADA, in an effort to boost the fight against performance-enhancing drugs, the head of the country's Federal Agency for Physical Culture and Sports said Friday.

"All the main work has been done already and early next month RusADA will be officially registered and begin its operations," Vyacheslav Fetisov told reporters. "It'll be a fully independent body that will deal with all doping cases."

Fetisov said RusADA's structure would be similar to the U.S. anti-doping agency USADA.

A delegation of senior Russian anti-doping officials will travel to the United States next week to develop better ties with their American colleagues and learn more about the USADA's work.

"The Americans have made great strides in the fight against doping and we're keen to learn more about their system," said Fetisov, who is also one of the founding members of the World Anti-Doping Agency and heads their Athlete Commission.

Russian sports have been hit by a number of high-profile doping cases recently.

The International Rowing Federation this week handed two-year bans to seven Russian rowers for violating anti-doping rules at last year's world championships. And three prominent Russian women hammer throwers, including world record holder Tatyana Lysenko, face lengthy bans after testing positive for prohibited substances last year.

Until RusADA's creation, doping cases in Russia have been handled by various sports federations, overseen jointly by Fetisov's agency and the Russian Olympic Committee.