8th October 2020

Has Russia scored an own goal?

It still sounds fantastical. That Russia engineered a sample swapping system within the official anti-doping Laboratory at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, the aim of which was to allow its ‘protected’ athletes to dope unimpeded. Irrespective of whether or not you accept the evidence that such a scheme took place, anti-doping statistics record that Russia reported not one adverse analytical finding (AAF) during the Sochi 2014 Olympics – let alone any anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs). As of December 2017, this resulted in cases being opened against 46 Russian athletes, as this factsheet illustrates.

It would therefore appear that Russian athletes were doping at Sochi 2014, and such doping went undetected. But in attempting to refute evidence about how that occurred, Russia may have scored a spectacular own goal. It has always denied that the State coordinated subversion of the doping control system in Russia. Yet a coordinated blanket denial issued by many officials implicated in the doping of Russian biathletes suggests that such State control is still in place.

The calling of 14 witnesses by a legal defence team that falls outside of Russia’s ‘usual suspects’ for athlete appeals against doping sanctions at the CAS is unusual. It led to a number of serious discrepancies regarding the evidence given in all three cases at the CAS. To pick two at random, this includes allegations involving eating spoonfuls of salt, and that Dr. Rodchenkov’s signature may have been forged.

Biathlete appeals

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) recently upheld appeals from two of three Russian biathletes against sanctions issued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). All of three cases revolved around the evidence from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) McLaren Reports and the IOC’s Schmid Report. 

In the case of Olga Zaytseva (Ольга Зайцева), the CAS upheld the IOC’s sanction for use of a prohibited method; and for use of a prohibited substance. The Full Decisions reveal that although the evidence used to assert ADRVs against all three athletes was identical, the circumstances of each athlete’s case were not.

In all three cases, the CAS was reluctant to support the IOC’s decision to sanction athletes for doping based solely on the idea that evidence indicated that they may have doped. All three biathletes were included on the ‘Duchess List’ of athletes who were to be administered the infamous oral cocktail of oxandrolone, methenolone and trenbolone developed by Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov (Григорий Родченков), former Director of the Moscow Laboratory. All three were alleged to have provided ‘clean urine’ to a urine bank; and to have transmitted their doping control forms (DCFs) to enable sample swapping. Scratch marks indicating opening were found on bottles containing samples provided by all thee athletes. The names of all three athletes featured alongside their Sochi 2014 sample numbers in the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) retrieved from the Moscow Laboratory by WADA, which it alleged indicated that they had been identified for sample swapping. 

The CAS held that this evidence alone was not enough to assert that the athletes had knowingly committed an ADRV. The inclusion of an athlete’s name on the ‘Duchess List’ did not constitute evidence that they had used prohibited substances. There was no evidence that the athletes concerned had provided their urine to a ‘clean urine’ bank, or that they had transmitted DCF information to the Sochi Laboratory or Irina Rodionova (Ирина Родионова), former Deputy Director of the Russian centre for sports preparation (CSP). Scratch marks on bottles did not necessarily indicate that the athletes had been involved in manipulating sample bottles. Inclusion of an athlete’s name on the LIMS did not necessarily mean that they had doped.

In the case of Olga Vilukhina (Ольга Вилухина), the CAS Decision (PDF below) reveals that she provided three urine and two blood samples before and during the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Just one sample bottle had marks indicating that it may have been opened.

In the case of Yana Romanova (Яна Романова), the CAS Decision (PDF below) reveals that she provided five urine samples and a blood sample. Two bottles had marks indicating that they may have been opened, but the marks on one of the bottles were judged to be inconclusive.

In the case of Zaytseva, the CAS Decision (PDF below) reveals that she provided three urine samples and one blood sample. Two of her sample bottles had marks indicating that they may have been opened, but one also contained urine with an abnormally high concentration of salt. This is the key difference.

Zaytseva attempted to explain the high salt levels by asserting that she is ‘very fond’ of salted food; that she is very sweaty; and that she would sometimes eat spoonfuls of salt. The Panel rejected these contentions, concluding that there was no natural explanation for the high level of salt in the sample.

A DNA analysis report received by Zaytseva on 30 October 2017 as part of her defence confirmed that the urine in all three sample bottles was her urine. So, the CAS reasoned, the sample had been tampered with, and contained her urine.

‘Given that the only plausible objective of a urine substitution is to conceal the potential presence, in the replaced urine, of prohibited substances, the replacement urine had, for its part, to be “clean” or in other words not to contain any prohibited substance’, reads the Decision. ‘In this connection, it appears that in order to fully achieve this objective, the replacement urine had to be properly analysed and cleared for usage. Considering that such analysis requires a certain amount of time, the Panel finds that it most likely took place before the Sochi Games. This, of course, indicates that the provision of this “clean” urine must have occurred before the Sochi Games. 

‘The Panel holds that this advance provision of clean urine by the Appellant cannot have taken place without the Appellant’s knowledge and active cooperation. The Panel concludes that this finding is not called into question by the Appellant’s blank denial, or by the fact that the Panel has concluded that there was no direct evidence for the provision of clean urine by the Appellant. Further, as the Appellant does not assert that she might have been administered prohibited substances without her knowledge, the evidence indicates that she knew, or should have known, that the urine she provided in advance to the Sochi Games was to be used for swapping the urine samples she would eventually have to provide during official doping control tests at the Sochi Games.’

Therefore, the IOC’s sanctions against Zaytseva for use of a prohibited method (urine substitution) and use of a prohibited substance were upheld, since sample swapping would not have taken place if the sample were clean. Zaytseva has already indicated that she plans to appeal. This is where things begin to get interesting.

Forged signatures

Alexei Panich (Алексей Панич), a lawyer used by all three biathletes, has indicated that a criminal complaint has been filed alleging that Dr. Rodchenkov’s signature was forged on affidavits provided in support of the IOC’s arguments. This allegation was dismissed by the CAS in all three cases. 

‘The Panel noted that the Respondent had provided the Panel with an official certified original affidavit of Dr. Rodchenkov from which it follows that none of the signatures on the affidavits submitted in the present proceeding were forged’, reads a line featuring in all three Decisions. ‘Thus, the Panel expressly finds that the allegations raised by the Appellant are wholly unfounded’.

“Russia’s latest defence to its intransigent doping crimes is its craziest yet as they preposterously claim that the affidavits detailing doping crimes by Russian athletes were forged”, Jim Walden, Dr. Rodchenkov’s lawyer, told InsideTheGames in March. “Apparently, Russia’s backward legal system hasn’t caught up with the advent of e-signatures. Rest assured, Dr. Rodchenkov’s statements are his own and he approved every word of his affidavits.”

Walden has declined to comment further. Panich and the biathletes enlisted the Digital Forensics Lab at Group-IB to analyse the affidavits. 

‘Group-IB experts conducted digital forensic analysis of two files that were presented by the client — a law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills CIS LLP’, read a statement emailed by the company. ‘The files provided for analysis were: «Exhibit 43 — Affidavit of Dr. Grigory M. Rodchenkov dated 12 November 2019.PDF» and «Exhibit R-64 — Affidavit of Dr. Grigory M. Rodchenkov dated 22 February 2020.pdf».

‘Group-IB’s forensic analysis established that page 16 of the PDF file «Exhibit 43 — Affidavit of Dr. Grigory M. Rodchenkov dated 12 November 2019.pdf» and page 6 of the PDF file «Exhibit R-64 — Affidavit of Dr. Grigory M. Rodchenkov dated 22 February 2020.pdf» contain exactly identical, from a digital forensic standpoint, element that can be extracted — an image with a signature. These images have the same file size and hash value. Both images can be copied and extracted from the files.

‘A person’s signature is always more or less the same, however, when scanning paper documents signed by the same person, the signatures on them would always have differences. If the images with signatures are exactly identical, this means that this is most likely the same image, which was pasted to different documents or one image copied from one file and pasted to another.

‘There is a specific e-signature (electronic signature) technology (https://acrobat.adobe.com/us/en/sign/electronic-signatures.html) that outlines processes for e-signing PDF files. In the case of the two files, analyzed by Group-IB, these were two identical images pasted without using Adobe e-signature technology. The examination of the signatures’ authenticity, and the analysis of whether it is legitimate to provide such signature images without notice in advance, was beyond the scope of Group-IB digital forensics experts’ work.’

It would appear that Adobe e-signature technology was not used in affidavits provided by Dr. Rodchenkov. But copying and pasting a signature or neglecting to use Adobe e-signature technology doesn’t automatically mean that a signature is forged. Such a method is often used to sign electronic invoices, for example.

Copying and pasting his signature from one document to another does not mean that the IOC ‘forged’ Dr. Rodchenkov’s signature, just as inclusion on the ‘Duchess List’ isn’t conclusive proof that an athlete ingested a prohibited substance. A more likely explanation is that Dr. Rodchenkov forgot to sign pages within the six affidavits he provided in connection to the three cases. 


As mentioned, the three cases involve evidence given by 14 people. They are:

• Mikhail Prokohorv (Михаи́л Про́хоров), former President of the Russian Biathlon Union (RBU);
• Irina Rodionova (Ирина Родионова), former Deputy Director of Russia’s centre for sports preparation (CSP);
• Sergey Volvak (Сергей Вольвак), IT specialist, CSP;
• I. N. Hachalova (И. Н. Хачалова), head of human resources, CSP;
• Alexander Kravtsov (Александра Кравцова), Director of the CSP;
• Evgeny Ustyugov (Евгений Устюгов), former professional biathlete;
• Sergey Kushchenko (Сергей Кущенко), former Executive Director of the RBU & former first Vice President of the International Biathlon Union (IBU);
• Oleg Besklinsky (Олег Бесклинский), former driver for the RBU;
• Evgeny Kudryavtsev (Евгений Кудрявцев), formerly of the Moscow & Sochi laboratories;
• Yuri Chizhov (Юрий Чижов), Head of Administrative Support at the Moscow Laboratory;
• Grigory Krotov (Григорий Кротов), former Head of Peptide Doping & Blood Testing at the Moscow Laboratory;
• Maxim Verevkin (Максим Веревкин) of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA);
• Andrey Knyazev (Андрей Князев) of RUSADA;
• Wolfgang Pichler, former Coach of the Russian women’s biathlon team.

Prokhorov responds to an allegation made in the affidavit provided to the IOC’s Schmid Commission by Dr. Rodchenkov (see right) that he paid biathlete Irina Starykh (Ирина Старых) ‘millions of roubles’ to keep quiet about allegedly being instructed by Stanislav ‘Stastik’ Dmitriev (Станислав Дмитриев) to inject erythropoietin (EPO) whilst training abroad. He ‘categorically rejects the allegation that he had paid millions for the silence of people to an alleged doping of Ms. Irina Starykh’. 

In other words, he has denied paying people connected to the alleged doping of Starykh, but hasn’t denied paying Starykh. Semantics, perhaps.

Dr. Rodchenkov’s allegation mentions that Starykh’s failed test took place in Austria. This is inaccurate. Starykh’s AAF took place in December 2013 at an out of competition test in Slovenia, but was analysed by Austria’s Laboratory. Again, semantics, perhaps.

In 2019, Austrian police arrested nine people following a raid in Seefeld, Austria, following the ‘Operation Aderlass’ blood doping investigation into the customers of Dr. Mark Schmidt. At his recent trial in Germany, it emerged that he is implicated in 150 doping cases between 2011 and 2019. 

It appears that the RBU did organise a training camp within this time period for its female team in Austria. ‘With regards to the non-participation of Ms. [Ekaterina] Glazyrina at the world cup races referred to by Dr. Rodchenkov, he testified that during the time period referred to, they were not training in Oberhof but in Seefeld’, reads evidence from Wolfgang Pichler, coach to Russia’s female biathletes, to the CAS. 

The fact that the Russian women’s biathlon team were apparently training in Seefeld, Austria during the period in which Dr. Schmidt operated his blood doping network is not proof of doping. However, Pichler also said that Glazyrina’s (Екатерина Глазырина) ‘alleged’ doping took place when she was overseas and not under his supervision. This is also inaccurate. 

Glazyrina was provisionally suspended on 10 February 2017 during the IBU Biathlon World Championships in Austria. However, her AAF was the result of a 2013 test at the Izhevsk Rifle Russian Championships which was initially reported by RUSADA as negative, after which she was put on a protected list so that she could compete at Sochi 2014.

Two days after the sample arrived at the Laboratory, emails (see right) between Dr. Rodchenkov and CSP official Alexey Velikodniy (Алексей Великодный) revealed that her sample contained metenolone, oxandrolone, and trenbolone, the three ingredients in Dr. Rodchenkov’s ‘Duchess’ cocktail.

Pichler also told the CAS (see right) that German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, whom he also coached, had ‘confessed’ to doping. Again, this is inaccurate. Sachenbacker-Stehle recently told The Sports Integrity Initiative she had never doped. Her AAF for methylhexaneamine was due to her consumption of tea named ‘Schisandra’, and she successfully appealed her sanction to the CAS.

Velikodniy was allegedly the CSP staff member in charge of the urine substitution programme at Sochi 2014. He didn’t give evidence in any of the three cases. Irina Rodionova denied that Aleksei Kiushkin (Алексей Киушкин), who supposedly assisted Velikodny, ever worked for the CSP, supported by Hachalova, Head of Human Resources at the CSP. Rodionova also denied all the allegations made by Dr. Rodchenkov.

Prokhorov, who was President of the RBU from 2008 until May 2014 – shortly before the Sochi 2014 Olympics – denies ever meeting ‘Stastik’ Dmitriev, whom Dr. Rodchenkov alleges supplied prohibited substances to the Russian biathlon team. Interestingly his replacement, Alexander Kravtsov, doesn’t mention Dmitriev at all.

Kravtsov was Director of the CSP until this year, when he was removed due to charges of embezzlement. The CSP is in charge of preparing Russia’s national teams for competition. In the affidavit he provided to the IOC’s Schmid Commission, Dr. Rodchenkov mentions the CSP as being involved in the management of Russia’s State doping programme. 

He mentions Kravtsov as initiating discussions with him about half the biathlon team being under the control of ‘Stastik’ Dmitriev, whom he names as the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) supplier of prohibited substances. Dr. Rodchenkov also mentions that Kravtsov was chief of Russia’s Olympic delegation at Sochi 2014, and informed him about the positive tests of biathletes Irina Starykh and Ekaterina Iourieva (Екатерина Юрьева) ahead of Sochi 2014. Given Dr. Rodchenkov’s implication that he was at the head of Russia’s State doping programme, it is therefore perhaps significant that all Kravtsov denied was that the CSP owned suitable fridges to store athlete samples. 

The CSP would not have needed fridges to store any urine or blood samples. Its address – строение 8, Ulitsa Kazakova, 18, Moscow, Russia, 105064, is only a five minute walk from the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory at 10 Yelizavetinskiy Pereulok, Moscow.

The now infamous facade of the Moscow Laboratory at 10 Yelizavetinskiy Pereulok…

Sergey Kushchenko, Executive Director of the RBU, denied having met Dr. Rodchenkov in his car for the purpose of acquiring prohibited substances for the Russian biathlon team. He also denies that his driver, Oleg Besklinskiy, ever gave any money to Dr. Rodchenkov. This allegation isn’t mentioned in the affidavit provided by Dr. Rodchenkov to the Schmid Commission, or in his recent book. Kushchenko also claims to have never communicated with Dr. Rodchenkov or Rodionova, the former Deputy Director of the CSP.  

Sergey Kushchenko, Executive Director of the RBU, denied having met Dr. Rodchenkov in his car for the purpose of acquiring prohibited substances for the Russian biathlon team (see right). He also denies that his driver, Oleg Besklinskiy, ever gave any money to Dr. Rodchenkov. This allegation isn’t mentioned in the affidavit provided by Dr. Rodchenkov to the Schmid Commission, or in his recent book. Kushchenko also claims to have never communicated with Dr. Rodchenkov or Rodionova, the former Deputy Director of the CSP.  

Kushchenko’s denial of any involvement is perhaps predictable. Prokhorov appointed CSP Director Kravtsov as his replacement as President of the RBU. Kushchenko was invited by Prokhorov to become CEO of the RBU in 2009, and remains Prokhorov’s chief advisor for sporting affairs. Prokhorov owned US basketball team the Brooklyn Nets, and appointed Kushchenko to its board of Directors in 2011. 

It is understood that Herbert Smith Freehills was retained by the RBU as its legal advisors during Prokhorov’s tenure as President of the RBU. It is the same law firm used by all three biathletes at the CAS. It is the same firm being used by all three biathletes in their defamation lawsuit (PDF below) against Dr. Rodchenkov in the US. It has been alleged that Prokhorov may be financing this lawsuit.

Three employees of the Moscow Laboratory were also called as witnesses in the three cases, one of whom is apparently still working there. The first is Evgeny Kudryavstev, the former Head of the Sample Reception and Aliquoting Department at the Moscow Laboratory from late 2012 until November 2015. 

In its Report into manipulation of the  Moscow LIMS, WADA found that 25 messages were deleted from the Moscow LIMS message forum showing that Kudryavstev was involved in sample swapping and record falsification immediately prior to WADA’s removal of 4,144 samples from the Laboratory on 17 December 2014. Messages involving Kudryavstev were also modified in order to incriminate Dr. Rodchenkov and his assistant, Dr. Timofey Sobolevsky (Тимофей Соболевский). 

A message from Kudryavstev to Dr. Sobolevsky read:‘Tim, we will soon be giving it’. It was modified to appear to be a message from Dr. Sobolevsky to Dr. Rodchenkov, reading: ‘I propose we enlighten Kudryavtsev about our scheme involving the samples. We need to tell him straight and clearly, that we are creating the appearance of dirty samples, and the athletes and their trainers are bringing us bonuses. Otherwise he will suspect something dodgy is going on and will be unlikely to release any repeats without requests’.

Therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that he denied the Sochi scheme as ‘a figment of Dr. Rodchenkov’s imagination’. The second Laboratory employee called as a witness in all three cases was Yuri Chizhov. He gave evidence alongside Kudryavstev in Alexandr Zubkov (Александр Зубков) and Alexander Legkov’s (Алекса́ндр Легков) appeals against doping sanctions at the CAS – remarkably similar cases which also involved salt concentrations in the biathletes’ samples.

Readers will be unsurprised to learn that Kudryavstev also dismissed Dr. Rodchenkov’s allegations as false in these two previous cases. In both cases, Kudryavtsev and Chizhov’s descriptions of Dr. Rodchenkov as a ‘drunk’ and a drug user (see right) are very similar. The allegation that Dr. Rodchenkov’s motives for making his allegations were an attempt at personal fame and financial gain, made in paragraph 612 of the Legkov decision and para. 580 of the Zubkov decision, are similar to allegations made by the investigative committee of the Russian federation (SKR or Sledcom) in its yet to be concluded criminal case against Dr. Rodchenkov.

Chizhov also repeats his allegations, made in the Legkov and Zubkov Decisions, that video surveillance in the Sochi 2014 Laboratory would have made sample swapping impossible. No evidence that video footage of the Sochi 2014 Laboratory operations exists in the Independent Observer Report produced for WADA after the Games.

WADA’s chief Independent Observer, Thierry Boghossian, confirmed that his team had noted that there were cameras in the lab, but ‘he could not recall ever checking any footage from video cameras at the Laboratory during the Sochi Games’. He also said that he was not aware of any other WADA observer reviewing footage from the cameras.

Had his team reviewed this footage, this may have revealed evidence either confirming or refuting the alleged manipulation occurring at the Laboratory. It also appears odd that Russian authorities have not produced such footage in support of their assertion that no systemic doping system existed.

Detail from the Zubkov Decision…

Chizhov ‘specifically denied having ever seen Mr. [Evgeniy] Blokhin in the laboratory building’ in all three Decisions. Blokhin is understood to have been the member of Russia’s federal security service (FSB) responsible for opening sample bottle caps. It is understood he had access to the laboratory as an accredited person under cover of being a sewerage and plumbing employee of building contractor, Bilfinger. In both the Legkov and Zubkov Decisions, Chizhov said that he had seen Blokhin at the Sochi 2014 Laboratory, but never inside it.

Perhaps most damningly, Dr. Rodchenkov published a picture in his book (right) allegedly showing Chizhov and Blokhin (Евгений Блохин) inside the Sochi 2014 Laboratory, waiting for night time sample swapping session to commence. Chizhov is pictured sitting one seat away from Blokhin.

The third Laboratory employee called as a witness in all three cases is Grigory Krotov. He also denied the existence of the scheme outlined by Dr. Rodchenkov and repeated the allegation that video cameras would have recorded any suspicious activity. Little is known about him, other than he worked with Dr. Rodchenkov on a number of scientific papers. It is understood that prior to working for the Moscow Laboratory, he worked for Russia’s State federal biomedical agency (FMBA). In 2015, he received the Manfred Donike award for his research on peptide doping analysis, growth hormone and erythropoietin (EPO).  

The first RUSADA employee mentioned in all three cases is Maxim Verevkin. An experienced Doping Control Officer (DCO), he was in charge of training DCOs at the Sochi 2014 Olympics. He now works for the Moscow Sports and Tourism Department, his CV reveals. Perhaps understandably given his supervisory position, he denies that any sample manipulation took place at Sochi 2014. Likewise regarding the second RUSADA employee mentioned in all three cases, Andrey Knyazev, who was manager of a doping control station at Sochi 2014.

Cracks in the narrative

As has been written before, whether you believe that Russia are masters of manipulation or tellers of truth largely depends on what you wish to believe. However, as outlined above, cracks in the narrative are starting to appear at a crucial stage. RUSADA’s appeal against WADA’s Decision to declare it non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code is less than a month away (CAS 2020/O/6689, 2-5 November).

The use of Herbert Smith Freehills in a Russian athlete appeal against a doping sanction at the CAS is unusual. Most Russian athletes who have appealed to the CAS have done so through a remarkably small number of law firms. A source has previously alleged that Russia’s Ministry of Sport will cover the cost of any appeals by Russian athletes to the CAS through money paid to the International Centre for Legal Protection (ICLP), so long as the athletes retain Swiss law firm Schellenberg Wittmer. 

Under Russian legislation, State bodies must hold a tender process for services they intend to contract out to commercial companies. An exception is made if the service is contracted out to a non-profit organisation. 

The ICLP was established in 2015. It is run by Andrey Kondakov (Андрей Кондаков), and was set up to ‘defend the interests of the Russian Federation’, such as in the Yukos case. Kondakov and the ICLP have also been involved in representing Russian athletes at the CAS. 

At the CAS, they represented the 28 athletes whose appeals against IOC sanctions in relation to doping at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics were upheld by the CAS. The ICLP also represented Ivan Ukhov (Иван Ухов) in his appeal to the CAS (see pictures, right). 

Schellenberg Wittmer has represented many Russian athletes, such as Yuliya Kondakova (Ю́лия Кондако́ва), Ekaterina Glazyrina, and Svetlana Shkolina (Светлана Школина), in appeals to the CAS. It also represented Russian athletes involved in procedures stemming from the IOC’s Oswald Commission, such as Aleksandr Tretiakov (Александр Третьяков) and Alexandr Zubkov.

It is understood that the Swiss firm also represented the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) in drafting its reply to charges levelled by World Athletics in connection to the Danil Lysenko (Данил Лысенко) case. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics said that RusAF had ‘gone to great lengths to deny any involvement in the matter, blame others and attack the process’. 

It is also the law firm chosen by the ROC to represent the interests of RUSADA in its challenge to WADA’s decision to declare it non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code for a four year period. RUSADA has retained the same firm. Sources allege that this suggests RUSADA’s appeal against WADA’s decision to declare it non-compliant with the Code may be being managed by Russia’s Ministry of Sport. There is no indication that the Swiss law firm knows anything about any of this.

Yet Mikhail Prokhorov, Yana Romanova, Olga Vilukhina, and Olga Zaytseva have challenged sport’s decisions outside of this apparently coordinated State response. The use of Herbert Smith Freehills is significant because it falls outside of that coordinated response.

Is it credible that anyone – let alone an elite athlete – is fond of eating spoonfuls of salt? Is it credible that copying and pasting an image of a signature from one page of a document to another document constitutes forgery? Why did Russia’s coach tell CAS that an athlete innocent of having intentionally doped had ‘confessed’ to doping? Why did CSP employees state that they didn’t have a fridge to store urine samples when the Moscow Laboratory was less than five minutes walk away? Why did CAS trust the statement of somebody whose entires into the Moscow LIMS had been modified in order to exonerate him? Why did a Sochi Laboratory employee deny ever meeting somebody when they were pictured in a room with them?

Such discrepancies perhaps illustrate why the Russian State would wish athletes to use the ICLP and Schellenberg Wittmer to appeal doping sanctions at the CAS. Not only would they be able to indirectly finance athlete appeals, as has been alleged by a source, they can also control the narrative. A blanket denial of any involvement by 14 implicated people is suspicious, as the questions above illustrate. 

This is why through the ‘successful’ appeal of two of these three biathletes, Russia may have scored an own goal. The inconsistencies show up Russia’s efforts to present a coordinated response to allegations of State doping.

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