Report: Whistleblower diary strengthens case against Russia
Diary entries from the key whistleblower in the Russian doping scandal recount several meetings with powerful government officials, and are expected to be used as further evidence when the IOC decides Russia’s fate for the upcoming Olympics.
The New York Times obtained entries from the diary kept by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow anti-doping lab, who is now living in the United States under federal protection.
Included in the diary were details of discussions and meetings with Vitaly Mutko, who was the country’s sports minister at the time and is now deputy prime minister. Rodchenkov also wrote about meetings with Yuri Nagornykh, the former deputy sports minister, and Irina Rodionova, the former deputy director of the center of sports preparation of national teams of Russia.
A person familiar with the contents of the diary told The Associated Press they were authentic. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no comments were authorized due to the sensitivity of the case.
On Monday, the International Olympic Committee released a full decision for the ban of one of the 19 athletes it has stripped of results from the Sochi Olympics and suspended for upcoming games. In it, the team of IOC investigators validated Rodchenkov as a witness and also said his diary entries appear legitimate.
“These entries may therefore be considered as a significant evidential element,” the decision said.
The IOC executive board meets next Tuesday to determine the fate of Russia’s Olympic team, with the growing chance it may use the decision released yesterday to further justify a complete ban.
The details of Rodchenkov’s diary will add more evidence to the argument that Russia should be banned as a team. The IOC could choose to let Russian athletes who can prove they’ve been thoroughly tested to compete as neutral athletes. That, in turn, could compel Russia to have its eligible athletes boycott the Games altogether, rather than compete as neutrals.
In the diary, Rodchenkov makes note of the plan to swap dirty urine samples with clean ones at the Sochi Olympics in order to make sure that doped athletes would not get caught.
“There’s no clear understanding of the plan, it’s just a nightmare!” Rodchenkov wrote on Jan. 29, less than two weeks before the Sochi Games began and one day after two top Russian biathlon athletes had been caught doping in Austria. “Mutko is freaking out over biathlon, things are out of control and chaotic.”
The plan, however, did work, and the IOC report compared it to “a Swiss watch with many small wheels working in common.”
The report validated both the testimony of Rodchenkov and the conclusions drawn by Canadian professor Richard McLaren, who said the doping deception was directed by government officials.
Russia has denied its government directed the program and has blamed it on Rodchenkov and other individual actors.
But the diary entries make clear that Rodchenkov was answering to members of the government.
He described a meeting with Nagornykh to discuss whether to falsify the record of race walker Elena Lashmanova, who had been nailed for a doping positive.
“He got an excellent tan in Mexico,” Rodchenkov wrote after the meeting. “I spent 1.5 hours there fighting. Nagornykh slowly backed off. We agreed to go see Mutko by 1:00.”
In July 2014, Lashmanova was suspended.