Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
A documentary for ARD, screened yesterday, has alleged that banned coaches are still operating under state protection in Russia and that the Russian Ministry of Sport (MoS) has covered up positive doping tests. ‘Geheimsache Doping: Showdown for Russia’ (video in English below) also contains evidence from former Moscow laboratory Director Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov that an organised business operated in sport to cover up positive doping tests, specifically implicating the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the Russian MoS. It also contains evidence that Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s Minister for Sport, may have been involved in covering up a footballer’s positive test in 2014; and details the contents of a planned book by former Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) Director Nikita Kamaev, who died on Valentine’s day this year.
In an interview with Hajo Seppelt, Mutko claims that Russia has been working on eliminating doping for the past five or six years, and that the country has dismissed all who are corrupt.
In a previous ARD documentary, Gordeev was recorded taking a call and offering banned drugs – including oxandrolone and testosterone – to a journalist posing as an athlete ahead of the Russian winter championships in February this year. In yesterday’s documentary, Dmitry Shliakhtin, President of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF), confirms that Gordeev has been suspended, and that regional authorities are aware of this. However, Gordeev is pictured working with athletes in Kislovodsk, a Russian city near the Georgian border and Sochi, the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Chegin, a famous race-walking coach, was banned for life by RusAF on 26 March this year. In April, 55 athletes and coaches asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene in an attempt to overturn Chegin’s ban. “Chegin is no longer working”, said Mutko in yesterday’s documentary.
However, ARD pictured him training race walkers on 27 April this year in the town of Adler, just 10km from Sochi. Olga Kaniskina, Sergey Kirdyapkin and Elena Lashmanova, who all signed the April letter, were pictured at the training session.
Chegin was hidden in a van accompanied by a police escort, however ARD’s video footage was analysed by a facial recognition expert, who said he was 95% certain that Chegin was in the van. An anonymous witness claimed to have seen Chegin training the race walkers.
The documentary also includes evidence from international doping control officer Angelika Weissmann, who was turned away from the town of Tryokhgorny when trying to test Russian athletes training there, by Russia’s state police (FSB). Tryokhgorny is a closed town due to its nuclear facilities, and Weissmann was told she could not enter and must stay 80km away, otherwise her visa would be cancelled and she would be deported.
Kamaev was the former Director of RUSADA, who died on Valentine’s Day this year. ‘Presumably, the cause of death was a massive heart attack’, wrote RUSADA in a statement a day later. The documentary interviews Professor Verner Møller of Aarhus University, who had been in contact with Kamaev about collaborating on a book he had planned to write exposing doping in sport.
“That is absolutely absurd”, said Mutko, when questioned about the situation. “If he had written any kind of book, there would be no sensations in it”.
“He has a lot of information and evidence to back up this information”, said Møller. “He had evidence of secret laboratories that worked for athletes to dope. That was not only in Russia. He had evidence that happened in other countries as well.”
The documentary also features a 2015 recording with Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Director of the Moscow laboratory who is now living in the US, and who made allegations that the Sochi 2014 Olympic laboratory had been subverted. In the recording, Rodchenkov talks about an organised business to cover up doping positives that at the time of the London 2012 Olympics had cost $500 to redeem an athlete who had doped.
He said that athletes were often encouraged by their coaches to pay money to a Russian contact, who would then pass the money on to the IAAF. A document, held by ARD and featured in the documentary, details this process and implicates Natalia Zhelenova, whom Rodchenkov accuses of being personally involved in the testing process, in particular undermining the testing distribution plans of the international ski federation (FIS) and the International Biathlon Union (IBU).
Zhelanova, who was promoted to become Russia’s anti-doping advisor last month, played a role at the Sochi laboratory in her previous role as Head of the Anti-Doping Division of the Russian MoS. WADA’s Independent Observer (IO) report for Sochi 2014 found that while all Sochi laboratory staff ‘had been identified in the Laboratory Games Staff list under their ISO 17025 accreditation’, a ‘representative of the Ministry of Sport of the Russian Federation’ who ‘was not a part of the Laboratory Games staff and the IOC Medical Commission’ and ‘whose role was unclear to the IO’ was also present. Could this have been Zhelanova, or the Russian federal security service (FSB) agent who Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov alleged had begun working at the Moscow Laboratory in 2013, and showed him how to open and re-seal the tamper-proof sample bottles?
In the documentary, Rodchenkov also alleges that Zhelanova and Mutko put pressure on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and its President, Sir Craig Reedie, to drop the Independent Commission investigation into systemic Russian doping.
Finally, the documentary contains a letter from a Russian MoS employee, which contains evidence of an email between Mutko and a doping control laboratory in August 2014. It concerns a 17 August positive test for hexarelin, an anabolic steroid and growth hormone-releasing peptide (GHRP), by a player from FC Krasnodar.
The email states that instructions on what to do should be awaited from VL, which the documentary states is a codename for Mutko, whose full name is Vitaly Leontiyevich Mutko. The positive test was never announced. Mutko is a FIFA Council member and is responsible for the government’s involvement in the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup.
‘The Russian Ministry of Sport strongly rejects the charges of failing to take the necessary steps at their level in the fight against doping’, read a statement issued today. ‘None of the suspended coaches are involved with the Russian national teams, and are not funded by the state. The Ministry of Sport cannot control the movement and location of unqualified coaches and athletes. If there is information that unqualified staff are continuing training activities, we will immediately react and take appropriate action.’
The statement also said that the allegations made by Rodchenkov are unreliable. ‘As it is known, an independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recognised him as a person involved in the concealment of the facts relating to the use of doping by athletes and dissemination of performance-enhancing drugs for personal gain’, it read.
‘Rodchenkov managed to deceive the anti-doping community for many years. He presented himself as a well-known expert on anti-doping, has received international recognition for his work among the participants of the anti-doping movement. In fact, by his own admission, made after his dismissal, Mr. Rodchenkov carried out illegal activities and violated the spirit of fair sport for many years. Any statements made by Rodchenkov should be considered taking into account this fact.’
The statement also denied knowing anything about the allegations concerning positive tests in football. ‘Any evidence of the offence shall be transmitted to the relevant authorities to carry out a proper investigation’, it said.
The IAAF Council is to make its decision on whether Russia can be readmitted at its Council meeting in Vienna on 17 June. Following that, WADA is to present its evidence concerning Rodchenkov’s allegations by 15 July at the latest. At time of publication, neither had indicated whether the new allegations made in the ARD documentary would also be considered.
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