German journalist prepared to back-up allegations of Russian doping

Hajo Seppelt’s three documentaries alleged systemic doping and a cover-up involving IAAF

The German journalist whose documentary lifted the lid on claims of systematic doping in Russian athletics has said he is prepared to make a follow-up after receiving more evidence.

Hajo Seppelt, whose three documentaries for ZDF/ARD alleged systemic doping and a cover-up involving IAAF officials, said the undercover documentary had led others to come forward with evidence.

“We did not plan a sequel, however, people are sending us more and more evidence to back the claim there is systematic doping in Russian sport,” Seppelt told the Russian website on Friday. “Therefore, I do not want to categorically rule out such a move. If it is needed, we will film a second part.”

Seppelt also praised the whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov, who formerly worked for Russia’s anti-doping agency and was one of the main accusers in the programme.


"He is an absolutely wonderful person. He is like Edward Snowden in the world of sport. He wants to fight against doping," Seppelt said. "Vitaly was very convincing. He worked at Rusada to try to clean up the sport from illegal drugs. However, they covered up everything he was trying to do. Yulia Rusanova, who would become his wife, was also forced to take these tablets. He had no financial gain to make. He just wanted to tell the truth and be honest."

Seppelt also insisted the evidence on a leaked list of more than 150 athletes with suspicious blood values, which included three British athletes, was more comprehensive than the International Association of Athletics Federations had suggested. “The IAAF is trying to give the impression that all the details we had were individual blood values,” he said. “That is simply not the case. There are several readings for each athlete.”

When details of the list were revealed in the German documentary, without revealing any names, the IAAF said the historical blood data gathered was used for target testing purposes. “This was the practice by the few international federations which were conducting blood tests back then. Abnormal results were duly followed up by the IAAF, whenever possible logistically,” it said. “One cannot draw any conclusion on whether or not an athlete has doped on the basis of one single blood value.”

Athletics has been rocked by the doping claims and a separate Guardian investigation which suggested the son of the IAAF president Lamine Diack requested a $5m payment from the Qataris during the bidding race for the 2017 world championships. The Guardian also revealed that Dr Gabriel Dollé, the director of the medical and anti-doping department at the IAAF, left his post recently after being interviewed by the ethics commission.

Papa Massata Diack, who is the licensed agent for negotiating sponsorship deals in developing markets, has stepped down from his position as an IAAF marketing adviser until an ethics commission investigation into the doping claims has been completed.

The Guardian has seen the document that formed the basis of a story in the French newspaper L'Equipe this week about the Russian marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova, which alleged that two members of the Russian Athletics Federation extorted €450,000 from her in return for covering up a positive test.

The German broadcaster ARD claimed it had evidence a €300,000 refund to Shobukhova from the Russian federation – after she had been banned for failing a test – was channelled through a Singapore-based company called Black Tidings, which was owned by a Chinese business partner of Papa Massata Diack.

The head of the Russian federation, Valentin Balakhnichev has called the claims "a pack of lies". Balakhnichev has also stood down from his role as treasurer of the IAAF while the claims are investigated. It is understood that an IAAF executive board meeting earlier this week decided that the pair should stand aside.

The IAAF legal adviser Habib Cissé, facing questions over a meeting in Moscow with Papa Massata Diack and Balakhnichev, also came under pressure to stand aside while the investigation is completed.

However, Cisse hasrefused to stand down and said the meeting in question related to a sponsorship deal that was being negotiated ahead of the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow.

Guardian Service