Russia Accused Of Athletics Doping

A documentary screened on the German TV network MDR has revealed that Russia is funding a comprehensive “East German-style” doping program for athletes at national and international levels.

Liliya Shobukhova

In a further interview, Liliya Shobukhova, the Russian runner who is a winner of the London and Chicago marathons, alleged that she had to pay her own federation $450,000 in order to bribe her way into the 2012 Olympic Games in spite of abnormal blood test results for the period 2009 to 2011.

The documentary alleged that up to 99 percent of the Russian Olympic team use doping and it has a corruption network for covering up doping tests. This network involves officials at the Russian anti-doping agency, the International Association of Athletics Federations, and the doping control laboratory in Moscow.

This year, Russia came top of the medal table at the Winter Olympics in Sochi ahead of Norway and Canada. The surprising part is that the country infamous for its "doping" acts in the past was all clean during the event.

The investigative journalist Hajo Seppelt’s documentary allegations were described as "shocking" by David Howman, the general director of the World Anti-Doping Association.

Seppelt, after carrying out an investigation into modern doping practices before the Sochi games, was contacted by two whistleblowers from within Russian sports: Yuliya Stepanova, a former 800m runner who is now banned for abnormalities in her biological passport, and her husband, Vitaliy Stepanov, a former official at the Russian anti-doping agency. Yuliya Stepanova revealed in the documentary that she was constantly encouraged by her coaches to keep "clean" urine samples in a freezer for tests during the training regimen. Stepanova also revealed that she was asked to text the number of her urine samples to an official at the Russian athletics championships so that she can "sleep in peace". One covert recording in the documentary shows her coach handling Oxandrolone, an anabolic steroid banned by the International Olympic Committee, pills to her.

Yulia accused the head of the Russian federation's medical department, Sergei Portugalov, of supplying banned doping products in exchange for 5 percent of the earnings of an athlete plus bonuses for competition wins. Yulia also remarked that athletes of the country had avoided out-of-competition testing by using false names during foreign training camps.

Vitaliy Stepanov remarked RUSADA received regular calls from the ministry and asked it to reveal the identity of the athletes who had tested positive for banned drugs. He remarked the test remained positive if it was an unknown athlete but it was considered a mistake and not reported if the athlete was someone famous, or someone young, and a medal hopeful. Vitaliy Stepanov also claimed that athletes have to dope and that is how it works in Russia. He remarked functionaries and coaches tell you very clearly that you can only get so far with your natural skills and athletes need to get help to get medals, you need help and that help is doping.

Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of Moscow’s doping control lab, told filmmaker Seppelt that he should be very careful about putting too much faith into these athletes’ claims. He added these people are experiencing the biggest catastrophe of their lives.


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