PtG Article 20.05.2016

U.S. to probe Russian doping allegations

The U.S. Department of Justice opens investigations into alleged Russian doping regime. WADA appoints investigative team to look into possible Sochi 2014 doping offenses.

With allegations of a state-controlled doping regime in Russia growing, the United States’ Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the doping scandal, writes The New York Times.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York will look into Russian sports professionals at large, including both athletes, anti-doping officers and government officials, it says in the New York Times, that also writes that the DOJ is pursuing conspiracy and fraud.

Among the people who will be scrutinized by the DOJ, writes the New York Times, is former director of the Moscow anti-doping lab, Grigory Rodchenkov, who, in a lengthy interview, gave detailed accounts about how hundreds of urine samples were tampered with during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi to guarantee clean tests for Russian athletes.

In a 9 May interview with 60 Minutes, former anti-doping officer Vitaly Stepanov, whose testimonies initially caused this escalating scrutiny of Russian doping practices, had made similar allegations. Both Rodchenko and Stepanov fled Russia after the first reports of systematic doping offenses in the country broke and are currently in the U.S.

The allegations put forward by Rodchenko add to the damning reports delivered last year by the WADA Independent Commission, about a state-controlled doping system and the following IAAF ban of Russian athletics from international competition.

The IAAF is currently working on a report, which, in one month’s time, will determine whether ARAF, the Russian Athletics Federation, will be allowed to compete at the Rio Olympics this summer.

Several entities investigate claims

At a press conference concluding a special IOC executive board meeting on Tuesday, IOC president Thomas Bach refused to comment directly on the Russian case referring to the IAAF inquiry. Bach also said that he had had no official information regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s newly launched investigation into the claimed Russian doping offences.

 Bach referred to the IOC’s ‘no tolerance’ approach towards doping and said that the IOC had decided to re-rest hundreds of samples taken during the 2008 and 2012 summer Games in Beijing and London, respectively and to initiate a thorough investigation into the allegations against the Sochi lab.

“This is a powerful strike against the cheats we do not allow to win,” Bach said in a press release.

WADA has established a ‘Sochi Investigation Team’, which “will now gather and review all evidence to determine if there have been any violations to anti-doping rules, or any other rules or laws” said David Howman, WADA’s Director General in a press release announcing that lawyer Richard McLaren will be heading the investigation into the Sochi allegations.

“Once the investigation is concluded, WADA will publish a full report and make available all pertinent evidence,” Howman said.

Russian reactions

The Russian NOC has promised “to provide full assistance in an objective probe by WADA into allegations over the work of the drug testing laboratory at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics," the committee said in a statement, writes Russian news outlet Sputnik, and also reported that the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office is looking into the allegations too:

“The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation together with other law enforcing agencies, the Sports Ministry, as well as with the Russian Olympic Committee is checking information published in a range of media and the World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] on the use of doping by Russian athletes in the Olympics in Beijing, London, and Sochi,” said Alexander Kurennoy, spokesman of the prosecutor’s office, writes Sputnik.