22 December 2017

Putin suggests US are manipulating Dr. Rodchenkov

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that US authorities are manipulating Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, former Director of the Moscow Laboratory, into saying what they want. “He is under control of American special services”, said Putin at his annual news conference, reported Russian State news agency TASS. “What are they doing with him and what substances they are feeding him to make him say what they need to hear?”

Putin also said that it was a mistake to appoint Rodchenkov as Director of the Laboratory. “I know who did this, but what’s the use of talking about it now?” he said, reported TASS. “However, it is more strange for me, for a person who worked with the intelligence for a long time, how he had managed to smuggle all this garbage from North America and Canada? How did he manage to clear Customs Services under such tight control? He had been doing it for years. It certainly raises various questions.”

The person who appointed Rodchenkov is understood to be Nikolai Durmanov (Никола Дурманов), a former Head of Anti-Doping at the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), who at the time was Director of Anti-Doping at the Russian Federal Agency for Physical Culture and Sport (Росспорт). Dr. Rodchenkov’s Russian Wikipedia page reveals that he was appointed Acting Director of the Moscow Laboratory in 2005. In 2006, he was appointed Director through a special Росспорт commission. In a 6 June statement, Durmanov announced the appointment of Rodchenkov.

“At the time, we believed that this person was suitable for the position due to their skills, and international relations”, Durmanov told RBC, defending his choice. “I ask you to note, it was many years ago. We had to work at the same pace as that of our colleagues in order to avoid being outdone. It was with this in mind that we invited Rodchenkov’s candidacy, despite all its contradictions. Ultimately, this decision was weighed repeatedly through the opinion of many people, not just me.”

Back in 2015, Durmanov admitted the existence of a second Russian laboratory, the Laboratory of the Moscow Committee of Sport for Identification for Prohibited Substances in Athlete Samples. Based in an industrial area about 10km from Moscow, the first Report of the Independent Commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found that the Laboratory was controlled by the Moscow Government, Directed by forensic toxicologist Dr. Giorgi Bezhanishvili and its ‘reported objective’ was the ‘testing of athletes and children from the Moscow district’.

The WADA IC Report found ‘there is sufficient corroborated evidence to conclude that the second laboratory was assisting in the cover-up of positive doping results by way of the destruction of samples’. It also found that the second Laboratory ‘could be used as a first step to identify test samples of Russian athletes who have suspicious or positive urine samples’.

By admitting the existence of the second Laboratory, it could be argued that Durmanov has ‘broken ranks’ with Russia. Two other anti-doping officials who did the same thing are no longer alive.

Nikita Kamaev, a former Director of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), had been planning to write exposing doping in sport. Kamaev died on Valentine’s Day 2016. ‘Presumably, the cause of death was a massive heart attack’, wrote RUSADA in a statement a day later.

Professor Verner Møller of Aarhus University had been in contact with Kamaev about collaborating on the book. “Kamaev wanted to write a book about not only doping in Russia, but about doping all over the world”, Møller told The Sports Integrity Initiative. “He had evidence that there was a secret doping laboratory outside of Russia. That is something that he wanted to show me when we met, but unfortunately we did not have a chance to meet before he passed away.”

The Founding Chairman of RUSADA, Vyacheslav Sinev, also died less than two weeks earlier, on 3 February 2016. The circumstances of his death are still unknown, but Kamaev suggested on Skype that Sinev should meet researchers from the International Network of Doping Researchers (INDR) to discuss collaborating on his book.

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