The decision by Russia’s former chief anti-doping scientist to come forward with details of what he described as an extensive program to cheat at the Sochi Olympics takes the crisis over drugs in Russian sport to a new level of severity.
It could suck in hundreds more athletes, keep Russian track-and-field competitors out of the Rio Olympics, force Russian President Vladimir Putin to purge his sports minister and tarnish one of Putin’s proudest achievements: reviving Russian sport.
Allegations about officially-sanctioned doping in Russian sport have been rumbling for months, but Moscow has been able to argue the witnesses were unreliable and if there was wrongdoing, it was just a few isolated cases.
Comments by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russian sport’s anti-doping laboratory who this week spoke publicly for the first time, will be harder to brush off.
According to a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), he was for years the kingpin in a sophisticated operation to cover up doping in which dozens of Russian sports officials were implicated.
“He knew if not everything, then nearly everything,” Russia’s leading sports newspaper, Sport Express, wrote on Friday.
Rodchenkov this week described a scheme for covering up Russian competitors’ positive drug samples at the 2014 winter Olympics in the southern Russian resort of Sochi, that involved a secret lab, samples being switched at night, and vials of urine passed through a hole cut into a wall.
A Kremlin spokesman denied Rodchenkov’s allegations, made in an interview with the New York Times, saying they amounted to “slander by a turncoat”.
Some rival competitors have now called for the Russian victories in Sochi to be annulled, and WADA said it will investigate the allegations relating to Sochi. Read more