23rd February 2018

Dr. Rodchenkov’s lawyer urges US to adopt Doping Fraud Statute

Jim Walden, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov’s lawyer, has urged the US Congress to adopt a ‘Doping Fraud Statute’ that would enable the US to prosecute overseas doping that has affected US citizens or businesses. “We need to stop calling this doping and call it what it is, which is doping fraud”, Walden told the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission) at a hearing held yesterday entitled ‘The Russian Doping Scandal: Protecting Whistleblowers and Combating Fraud in Sports’ (video below).

Walden argued that athletes, sponsors, advertisers, international federations and every country that contributes to the budget of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) budget have been defrauded by Russian State doping. He pointed out that the US Controlled Substances Act contains many substances that feature on WADA’s Prohibited List, and when a conspiracy involving such substances affects US persons, then the US should be able to domestically prosecute those responsible.

Walden and a statement from Dr. Rodchenkov – who was invited but did not attend the hearing – left no doubt about who they think is responsible for Russian doping. Their view is that the evidence is irrefutable that the Russian State was behind a systemic doping system.

“It has been demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that the Russian State was behind a systematic effort to dope their athletes and defraud the Olympics”, said Walden. “His [Dr. Rodchenkov’s] bosses at the Kremlin – who by the way were supposed to be completely independent of the Moscow Anti-Doping Centre – ordered him to contrive an elaborate anti-doping system to allow Russian athletes to cheat athletes from around the world at international competitions including, but not limited to, the Olympic Games”.

Inconsistency of IOC sanctioning

Walden argued that the IOC has been inconsistent in its sanctioning by allowing Russian athletes to compete under the ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia’ moniker, but banning other nations from the Olympics for lesser offences. He argued that Kuwait has been banned from the Olympics since 2015 for ‘undue government interference in sport’ due to a law passed in 2014, yet Russia is allowed to continue to competing despite the weight of evidence that government officials were involved both in sport and anti-doping.

This evidence was outlined in detail. Walden alleged that metadata from the ‘Duchess List’ showed that it had been created by the Centre of Sports Preparation for the National Teams of Russia (CSP). The ‘Duchess List’ contained athletes who had doped using a ‘cocktail’ of oral steroids developed by Dr. Rodchenkov, the former Director of the Moscow and Sochi 2014 laboratories. These athletes were protected from reporting positive tests through the Disappearing Positive Methodology (DPM).

Screenshot of Russia’s Ministry of Sport’s internet site, showing Kravtsov as Head of the CSP…

The CSP is headed by Alexander Kravtsov (Александр Кравцов), as this Russian Ministry of Sports page shows (English translation on right). Kravtsov replaced Mikhail Prokhorov as President of the Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) after the Sochi 2014 Olympics, and was involved in discussions about half the team being under the control of a supplier of erythropoietin (EPO), according to Dr. Rodchenkov’s affidavit. Kravtsov was also chief of Russia’s delegation at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, and prepared the Russian delegation for PyeongChang 2018.

Brooklyn Nets owner Prokhorov is understood to be bankrolling a defamation lawsuit against Dr. Rodchenkov launched by three Russian biathletes who were stripped of Sochi 2014 golds. Walden said that he hoped the National Basketball Association (NBA) was monitoring this situation.

The ‘Duchess List’ was in operation at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and contained athletes who received a ‘cocktail’ of three steroids – metenolone, oxandrolone and trenbolone – dissolved in alcohol to speed up absorption and shorten the detection period. Such athletes were ‘protected’ from reporting positive doping tests at Sochi 2014 through the DPM, whereby their samples would be exchanged for clean urine collected in advance of the Games.

Walden alleged that State control was such that Dr. Rodchenkov had no choice but to participate in this if he wished to stay alive. “Dr. Rodchenkov learned that the Kremlin was hatching a new secret plan – a plan to blame him as a lone wolf”, he said. “They planned to execute this by executing him and staging his suicide”.

History indicates that this is a credible fear. After a 2014 documentary produced for ARD forced the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to acknowledge what was going on in Russia, former Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) Director Nikita Kamaev and Founding Chairman of RUSADA, Vyacheslav Sinev, died within two weeks of each other. The two had discussed collaborating on an exposé style book discussing doping.

Walden said that Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s former Minister of Sport who is now Deputy Prime Minister, had “orchestrated the sample swapping scheme, who ordered it after the dismal performance at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. And the IOC determined that he was legally responsible and culpable.” Yet despite this, Russia was allowed to send one of the largest delegations to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.

On 5 December, the IOC decided to suspend Russia, but invite certain Russian athletes to compete. It promised to reinstate the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to allow it to fly its flag at the PyeongChang 2018 closing ceremony on payment of a US$15 million fine and as long as Russia respected its decision.

Walden said that the above decision “looks like a carefully crafted PR exercise, a sham, that bears the hallmarks of negotiations with Russia […] Russia has been permitted to stonewall the IOC and WADA, despite almost on a daily basis protesting their innocence.” He pointed out that Russia has still refused to hand over the evidence held at the Moscow Laboratory, despite this being first requested by WADA over a year ago.

Failure to protect whistleblowers

Walden also said that despite the evidence outlined above, the IOC had proved itself “utterly toothless” in protecting Dr. Rochenkov from Russian threats to extradite, discredit, harass and threaten him. He said that if the IOC could not police itself, then the US needed to provide assistance to doping whistleblowers through its Statutes. “If we had a strong arm Statute for doping and we used it, I guarantee this problem would go away”, he argued.

Walden pointed out that the IOC has failed to take action against Russia, despite their own systems being hacked by organisations alleged to be linked to Russia. He alleged that the IOC did not disclose the Moscow Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) obtained by WADA in November last year to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which upheld appeals by 28 athletes against IOC decisions to sanction them for doping.

He pointed out that two IOC Members who have been the most vocal critics about lack of action regarding Russia, Adam Pengilly and Dick Pound, appear to have been sidelined ahead of a crucial meeting which will consider whether Russia has met the conditions to fly its flag at the PyeongChang 2018 closing ceremony. “No-one can seriously debate that the IOC’s conflicted political system is broken and is not working”, Walden added.

Rodchenkov’s statement

Walden read a written statement from Dr. Rodchenkov. ‘I sincerely apologise for my actions, which were directed by the Ministry of Sport, Vitaly Mutko and his Deputy Minister, Yuri Nagornykh, the CSP, RUSADA [Russian Anti-Doping Agency] the FSB and others’, it read. ‘I truly had no choice but to play my part in this scheme. Two of my colleagues died under mysterious circumstances after the scandal unfolded in 2015, and I truly believe they were murdered to silence them. Had I not fled Russia, I am sure I would have faced the same fate.’

IOC & WADA lack independence

In his statement, Dr. Rodchenkov said that the IOC had refused to use its power to suspend Russia, as it had done regarding government interference in sport within Kuwait. He also said that WADA lacks the independence to be truly effective, arguing that this sends a ‘terrible message’ to future whistleblowers.

“Whether or not the IOC intends it, these decisions look corrupt, complicit or at best, inept”, argued Walden. “I don’t know which one of these is accurate”. He added that he had sympathy with the IOC, as it needs to find countries prepared to finance the hosting of its mega events, and the pool of interested parties is shrinking.

As The Sports Integrity Initiative has previously reported, the IOC has financial reasons for not wanting to entirely exclude Russia from the Winter Olympics. We will find out soon whether it is prepared to put those financial concerns ahead of the integrity of sport.

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