3rd October 2017

Analysis: Arrest warrant issued for Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov

An arrest warrant has been issued for Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Director of the Moscow Laboratory who is currently under the US Federal Witness Protection Programme. A spokesperson for Moscow’s Basmanny District Court told Russia’s legal information agency (RAPSI) that the warrant had issued on 28 September, following the court’s ruling.

The WADA IP Report found that Mutko ordered the covering up of a Russian footballer’s positive test…

The warrant was issued 16 months after Dr. Rodchenkov was initially charged with Abuse of Authority under Part 1 of Article 201 of Russia’s Criminal Code, but just over a week after he wrote a New York Times editorial certifying that Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Vitaly Mutko, was involved with Russia’s systemic doping programme. Mutko, who was then Minister of Sport, was directly implicated in the Independent Person (IP) Report produced for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) by Richard McLaren as covering up the positive test of a Russian First Division footballer. He is also President of the Football Union of Russia (FUR) and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

In 2014, ARD reported that a government decree authorised by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was then Prime Minister, ordered that the transport and export of urine and blood samples by foreign anti-doping inspectors must be approved by the Russian authorities, and such samples may be opened at the border. In June 2016, WADA reported that operating an Athlete Biological Programme (ABP) within Russia is problematic, as ‘all samples must pass through Moscow’, and sample bottles were being opened at the border by customs officials.

In 2015, the international swimming federation (FINA) required all samples from the 2015 Kazan World Championships to be analysed in Russia, despite WADA’s Independent Commission (IC) investigating Russia at the time. FINA normally uses Swedish company IDTM to analyse samples, and earlier told World Swimming Coaches Association’s (WSCA) Executive Director, John Leonard, that there would be no restrictions on samples being sent outside of Russia.

Kazan 2015 took place from 24 July to 9 August. FINA’s requirement for all Kazan 2015 samples to be analysed within Russia is curious, as a November statement published after the publication of WADA’s IC Report suggests that it was able to send samples outside of Russia for analysis during 2015.

‘Following the announcement of the official investigation, FINA made the decision to move the overwhelming majority of the analysis of Russian athletes’ samples out of Russia’, read FINA’s statement. ‘In 2015, over 80% of the samples collected in Russia were analysed in the WADA-accredited laboratories in Barcelona (ESP) and Köln (GER)’.

Testing agency IDTM referred The Sports Integrity Initiative to FINA, who did not return a reply to questions. Russia finished third in the Kazan 2015 medal table, with nine gold medals – not an unusual result.


The arrest warrant issued to Dr. Rodchenkov suggest that Russia is continuing to pursue its theory that he was the mastermind behind Russia’s systemic doping programme. Dr. Rodchenkov was formally charged by the Investigative Commission of the Russian Federation in June 2016. Why has the arrest warrant been issued now?

In May this year, Russia published its National Anti-Doping Plan (NADP), which pledged to protect whistleblowers who expose doping in Russian sport. Detail on how that will be done has yet to be provided. Doping whistleblowers in Russia have reason to be scared, as The Sports Integrity Initiative has previously highlighted. The timing of the warrant so soon after Rodchenkov’s assertion in the New York Times that Mutko ‘knew about, and was critical to the success of, Russia’s doping program’, is likely to raise eyebrows.

Natalia Zhelanova told WADA that no such decree was in place

Interestingly, Natalia Zhelanova, advisor to the Minister of Sport in Russia and former Head of Anti-Doping within the Ministry of Sport, gave evidence to WADA’s Independent Commission that no law exists preventing the transport of blood and biological samples outside of Russia (p.265 of its first Report). Why, then, does WADA’s own evidence from 2016 find that ‘all samples must pass through Moscow’ and why did FINA require all Kazan 2015 samples to be analysed within Russia?

The Sports Integrity Initiative asked WADA if a decree ordering that the transfer of samples outside of Russia must be approved by the authorities is still in place. “WADA has received confirmation from the Russian Ministry that a law is in place ensuring that doping control sample packages are not opened by customs”, said a WADA spokesperson. This would suggest that Russia allows the transfer of samples overseas.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently completed its audit of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). WADA’s Compliance Review Committee (CRC) said that it would ‘review the outcomes of this audit and the general situation of RUSADA at its next meeting on 24 October 2017; and, will make a recommendation to the 16 November 2017 Foundation Board meeting as to whether or not RUSADA’s compliance should be reinstated’.


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