The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has today (Tuesday) said it will immediately probe the latest Russian doping allegations, related to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, stating the claims offer “real cause for concern”.
Vitaly Stepanov, who previously worked for the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) and is now living in the United States, told 60 Minutes, an investigative programme broadcast by US network CBS, that former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Centre Grigory Rodchenkov informed him in over 15 hours of taped conversations he had evidence of a 2014 Games testing cover-up, which included the use of Russian intelligence agents.
In an interview broadcast on Sunday, Stepanov said Rodchenkov told him “that FSB agents worked as doping controls officers during the Sochi Games, that FSB tried to control every single step of the anti-doping process in Sochi.” FSB refers to Russia’s Federal Security Service.
CBS said it had listened to all 15 hours of tape and that at one point, Rodchenkov told Stepanov he was in possession of what he called “the Sochi list” of four Russian gold medal winners who were doping.
Wada said today that while it has not yet been able to independently verify these allegations, it will now conduct further inquiries without delay. This includes initiating the process to access the recorded conversations in which Rodchenkov aired his views, as cited in the CBS program.
Wada president Craig Reedie said: “The claims made in the program offer real cause for concern, as they contain new allegations regarding attempts to subvert the anti-doping process at the Sochi Games. Mr. Rodchenkov was of course interviewed by Wada’s Independent Commission that exposed widespread doping in Russian athletics last year; yet, regrettably, he was not forthcoming with such information related to the Sochi Games. It is surprising to hear these views so many months after the Commission concluded its work.”
Russia remains banned from international athletics following the Wada Independent Commission report, which in November detailed evidence of state-sponsored doping and corruption in Russian sport. Russia’s sports ministry said yesterday (Monday) that it was “certain” about the transparency of its doping controls during Sochi 2014, and that independent observers had managed the testing operation daily.
“We are… certain about the transparency of doping controls during the Olympic Games,” the ministry said in a statement. “In addition to Russian specialists, doping control stations also employed foreign experts. Furthermore, a team of independent observers managed the doping control operations on a daily basis during the Games.”