Moscow, Apr 24 (IANS/RIA Novosti): Authorities in Perm, Russia, have arrested two male Russian weightlifters accused of smuggling and trafficking steroids from Belarus, the region's narcotics bureau said.
One of the weightlifters, authorities said Tuesday, is a "master of sports, international class", a governmental honour given to Russian athletics who win international championships. His younger accomplice has prior steroid smuggling convictions, according to authorities.
When they were arrested, the weightlifters were in possession of a combined 2,000 kg of anabolic steroids, authorities said.
The men had allegedly been selling steroids in Perm for the past year, distributing them among "a narrow range of clients".
Authorities said the names of the weightlifters would not be released until official charges were laid.
The arrests come a day after Russia's deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh told the "Sports Without Doping" conference in Moscow that positive doping tests for Russian athletes is on the decline. He did not offer any statistics to support his claim.
Russia's poor doping record has long been a stain on the country's sporting establishments, and the issue has come to the fore with Moscow set to host the World Athletics Championships this summer and the Winter Olympics in 2014.
There are currently 37 Russians on the International Association of Athletics Federations' list of sanctioned athletes in violation of anti-doping rules.