Global Independent Analytics

Russia Denies Doping at Sochi Olympics

Russia rejected claims that it had operated a state-sponsored doping program at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014, calling the allegations raised by a former lab chief “groundless”

Neil MacFarquahr for The New York Times reports: The accusations were made by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the country’s antidoping laboratory, and were the subject of an article in The New York Times on Thursday.

In his announcement Dr. Rodchenkov admitted that he had created a special cocktail for Russian athletes and described an elaborate scheme by Russia’s intelligence agency, the F.S.B., to tamper with urine samples in the dead of night in Sochi to avoid detection. After revealing this information, he fled Russia.

Dmitry S. Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin, told reporters that the account was not supported by any evidence. “These allegations look absolutely groundless,” Mr. Peskov told Russian news agencies in a conference call. “They are not substantiated by any trustworthy data; they are not backed by any sort of documents. All this simply looks like slander by a turncoat.”

Dr. Rodchenkov said the doping involved some of Russia’s most famous winter Olympians and medal winners, including 14 members of its cross-country ski team and two veteran bobsledders who won gold medals.

Two of the athletes named, Alexander Zubkov, a bobsledder who at age 39 was one of the oldest Olympians ever to win gold, and Alexander Legkov, a cross-country skier who won gold and silver, held a hastily convened news conference on Friday to deny the allegations.

“I have always been absolutely clean,” Mr. Zubkov said at the hourlong session, broadcast live on state television. “I consider these allegations absolutely groundless.”

Mr. Legkov suggested that the charges were politically motivated.

Considering the earlier allegations of doping in track and field, Ridchenkov’s claims might further complicate Russia’s efforts to refute other accusations of state-sponsored doping made by a commission of the independent World Anti-Doping Agency.

Mr. Legkov, one of the most well-known athletes in Russia, said Dr. Rodchenkov’s assertion that the drugs were served up in liquor to hide their presence was especially incredible, since Olympic athletes swore off consuming alcohol during their training.

“That just sounds ridiculous,” he said, adding that perhaps Dr. Rodchenkov had been drinking too many of his own cocktails.

Yuri Nagornykh, the deputy sports minister, who also appeared at the news conference, denied that Russia had ever had a state-sponsored doping program. All state means were concentrated on getting the Olympic athletes the best trainers and equipment possible, he said.

“There’s no doping program in Russian sport, in the Russian Federation; there was none and will be none,” he said.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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