Wednesday, 06 December 2017 16:01

Russian Grigory Rodchenkov is "proud" of the IOC

Grigory Rodchenkov is "proud" of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for ruling that Russian athletes must compete as neutrals at Pyeongchang 2018 but still fears for his life even in witness protection in the United States, his lawyer warned today.

Jim Walden, a founding member of Walden Macht & Haran LLP law firm, claimed Rodchenkov will be "looking over the shoulder for the rest of his life" after revealing the extent of Russia's state-sponsored doping system.

Walden described the Kremlin, which embarked on a public campaign to discredit the former Moscow Laboratory head, as a "very determined and difficult adversary" for Rodchenkov.

He also revealed that the database confirming allegations about doping in Russia made in the McLaren Report, obtained by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last month, contained the names of "thousands and thousands and thousands" of athletes protected by the system.

Many of these, however, are from outside of professional sport.

The McLaren Report initially said over 1,000 athletes benefitted from the doping scheme.

The database is a "a roadmap not just to 30 athletes from Sochi 2014 or the 1,000 athletes that McLaren believes, but thousands and thousands who were protected by the Russian system", according to Walden.

The decision from the IOC to ban Vitaly Mutko, Sports Minister at the time of Sochi 2014 and now the Deputy Prime Minister, from the Olympics for life was described as "wholly appropriate" by Walden speaking on Rodchenkov's behalf.

Rodchenkov claimed he had "day-to-day" discussions at Sochi 2014 with Mutko and other members of the Sports Ministry, including then Deputy Sports Minister Yuri Nagornykh, about the state-sponsored scheme.

Nagornykh has also been banned from the Olympics for life.

An IOC Commission chaired by former Swiss Confederation President Samuel Schmid confirmed a "systemic manipulation" of anti-doping results at events including Sochi 2014.

They ruled that the Sports Ministry were responsible and the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), while not directly involved, had "legal and contractual" responsibility.
"Moreover, the IOC’s decision to ban Vitaly Mutko and Yury Nagornykh specifically is wholly appropriate, especially given their direct involvement in supervising and financing the state-sponsored doping system, as well as the Russian Federation’s false denials, refusal to cooperate, and threat and retaliation against Dr. Rodchenkov," a statement from Walden read.

Since documenting the Russian doping programme in an interview with the New York Times in May of last year, which prompted the WADA investigation, Russia has cast Rodchenkov as a pariah and a liar whose evidence should not be believed.

He has also received public death threats, with Honorary ROC President Leonid Tyagachev claiming he should be "shot for his untruths" and should face a firing squad as "as Stalin would have done".

The IOC refused to condemn Tyagachev's quotes.

Walden claimed the IOC had privately told the Russian authorities that death threats and other public attempts to discredit Rodchenkov and his character were "wholly inappropriate".

"We were surprised that there was not a more public statement [of condemnation] from the IOC and WADA," he said.

"But he has never wavered and has not changed his determination."
The unprecedented decision from the IOC will allow innocent athletes from Russia to compete as neutrals providing they meet a set of stringent criteria.

Athletes from the country deemed eligible to participate by a specially convened panel will instead be able to participate under an Olympic Athletes from Russia - or OAR - banner.

Walden said Rodchenkov, forced to flee Russia because fears he would be targeted by the Government, welcomed this move but outlined the ways in which he feels "innocent" should apply.

He added that the decision of the IOC Executive Board, announced following a meeting in Lausanne today, "makes abundantly clear to Russia, and all countries, that there are serious consequences for flouting the rules of the international community".

"He believes a finding of 'innocence' should have a strict meaning to protect all clean athletes: 'innocent' should mean athletes (a) against whom WADA possesses no evidence of complicity (including against the coach); (b) who have no prior anti-doping rule violations; and (c) who test clean in pre-competition testing by independent testing authorities," the statement added.

"Today’s decision by the IOC sends a powerful message that it will not tolerate state-sponsored cheating by any nation."