Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Banned coaches are still training national team-level athletes in Russia under a systemic doping programme of which Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was aware, a new ARD documentary and Bryan Fogel’s ‘Icarus’ film allege. Russian 1,500m runner Andrey Dmitriev told journalist Hajo Seppelt that he witnessed suspended coach Vladimir Kazarin with athletes at a national team training camp, held in Kyrgyzstan during November last year.
Dmitriev also records footage of Kazarin at an indoor training camp in Chelyabinsk on 12 January this year, where he is pictured with 800m runner Natalia Danilova and Artyom Denmukhametov, a promising young shorter distance runner. Dmitriev alleged that Kazarin is training Denmukhametov but is not listed as his coach when results are reported, in order to make it look as if he is not involved.
Part One of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Independent Commission (IC) Report recommended that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ban Kazarin for life. The Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) has said that it will provide evidence to the IAAF that Kazarin has been provisionally suspended, and attempted to distance itself from the allegations.
“If a suspended coach is still working, then they have organised that using their own money”, RusAF President Dmitry Shliakhtin told TASS. “There is nothing to prevent him renting a hotel and he can train where he likes. If the IAAF Commission have any questions, then we have all the documents on the provisional suspension.”
The IAAF said its Task Force on Russian reinstatement will be meeting with representatives of RusAF today and tomorrow, and will deliver a progress report to the IAAF Council meeting on 6 February. “The IAAF thanks Mr. Seppelt and his team for sharing information ahead of tonight’s documentaries”, said a spokesperson.
Anastasiya Bazdyreva, whose two-year ban was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) just before Christmas, told ARD that she saw Kazarin at the November 2016 training camp, but claimed that she had no contact with him. Bazdyreva’s ban doesn’t expire until 24 August this year and under Rule 40, Article 12(a) of the IAAF Anti-Doping and Medical Rules, taking part in the training camp could constitute a breach of her ban.
Despite admitting to ARD that she had been at the training camp and had seen Kazarin there, Bazdyreva told Sputnik News that she had been coerced into cooperating. She also alleged that three people claiming to be employed by WADA had attempted to lock her in a room to be interrogated at the 2015 European Indoor Athletics Championships in Prague.
“Subsequently, I was referred to in the WADA report as an ‘aggressive and non-communicative person’”, she told the newspaper. ‘The athlete Anastasiya Bazdyreva aggressively refused to cooperate with the IC investigators’, concluded Part One of the WADA IC Report.
Dmitriev also claimed to have seen Mariya Savinova at the 2016 training camp. In ARD’s original December 2014 documentary, Savinova was recorded admitting taking the prohibited substance oxandrolone. Part One of the WADA IC Report recommended lifetime bans for both Bazdyreva and Savinova, however Dmitriev’s evidence suggests that both are still training. Savinova was coached by Kazarin and took the 800m gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics.
“No changes have really taken place”, Dmitriev told ARD in this full-length interview. Dmitriev also named three other coaches who he says he knows have doped Russian athletes. He alleges that the “worst” of these is Sergey Epishin, who was also implicated in Part One of the WADA IC Report. He alleged that Epishin operated a system whereby athletes would have to pay Rub200,000 (€3,125) to become part of his ‘group’ in order to pay for doping products. He alleges that one girl coached by Epishin told him: “If you haven’t used EPO [erythropoietin], then you’re not a professional runner”.
He also alleged that there is a specific problem in Kyrgyzstan, as drugs such as EPO, human growth hormone and more are sold openly in pharmacies. He alleged that it is a way for the people involved to make money, referring to the process as a “doping mafia”.
Dmitriev said that the way in which his parents had raised him had encouraged him to speak out, after he struggled with whether he should become part of the systemic doping system. “If you are quiet, you take part in it”, he said.
In a blog post written on 13 December last year, Dmitriev alleges that the doping problem could be worse in Russia today than it has been in the past. This is because although national team-level athletes cannot now dope with impunity – because the ‘disappearing positive’ methodology outlined in the WADA Independent Person (IP) Reports has itself disappeared – nobody is testing athletes further down the food chain, who can now dope with impunity.
‘The emerging elite athletes, who are not on the national team, are now not being tested at all, because the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s [RUSADA] licence has been withdrawn’, he wrote. ‘And so, the doping usage among those who are not top-3 athletes, has increased dramatically now, since they all understand that they will not be tested’.
Dmitriev wishes to stay in Russia, however is fearful about potential ramifications from his revelations. Vitaly and Yuliya Stepanova have had to move several times after speaking about systemic Russian doping; and Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, former Director of the Moscow Laboratory, is currently living at an undisclosed location under the US Federal Witness Protection Programme.
In another short interview, WADA said that its Director of Intelligence and Investigations, Günter Younger, would launch its Whistleblower Programme “in the coming weeks”. At its Foundation Board meeting in November last year, WADA promised that the Programme would be launched in January on a separate server from the rest of the WADA system, in order to protect against hacks such as those Fancy Bears has launched on anti-doping organisations (ADOs).
Dr. Rodchenkov claims that following his 2011 arrest on drugs charges the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, personally arranged his release so that he could oversee the systemic State doping programme in Russia. The claims are made in the ‘Icarus’ film by Bryan Fogel, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend.
In the film, Rodchenkov alleges was arrested on drugs charges following a power struggle with Dr. Sergei Portugalov over the supply of prohibited substances. Rodchenkov then attempted suicide and was put into a psychiatric unit. It is understood that he was released on the condition that he would return to work.
This he did – claiming in the film to have doped 30 Russian medal winners at the Beijing 2008 Olympics and over half of Russia’s 72 medal winners at London 2012. He also oversaw the doping programme for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, where Russia won an unprecedented number of medals without reporting a single adverse analytical finding (AAF).
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Vitaly Mutko, talked openly about doping athletes 12 years ago, reports the Mail on Sunday. Mutko was previously Minister for Sport and was implicated in the WADA IP Reports as being involved in the ‘disappearing positive’ methodology used to cover up positive doping tests. He is also President of the Russian Football Union and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, as well as being a FIFA Council member. He has also been appointed to Chair the organising committee for MINEPS VI, a UNESCO-sanctioned conference discussing the integrity of sport.
If Rodchenokov’s revelations about Putin’s personal involvement in his return to work are to be believed, it would appear that the systemic State doping system was run from the top, not by a few ‘rogue individuals’, as Russia has previously claimed. If Dmitriev’s allegations are also true, then it would appear that little has changed in Russian athletics. Taking both sets of allegations together, it would appear that rather than being dismissed, those who have been involved in systemic State doping within Russia are still holding on to positions of power.
The Mail on Sunday also reports that FIFA has asked Mutko to step away from his football involvements due to his alleged involvement in the Russian systemic state doping system. It remains whether other sports will take a similar approach, but it appears unlikely that these new revelations will convince the IAAF or the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) that Russia has done enough to be readmitted to international competition. It looks as if the IAAF World Championships will take place in London this year without Russia present.