Russian Olympic official says doping whistleblower should be executed

Honorary president says former anti-doping official ‘should be shot for lying’

Russia’s performance at their own Winter Olympics in Sochi has been tainted by the doping scandal. Photograph:   Lionel Bonaventure/Pool/Getty Images

Russia’s performance at their own Winter Olympics in Sochi has been tainted by the doping scandal. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/Pool/Getty Images

 

A top Russian Olympic official has said Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower who alleged the country ran a systematic doping programme, should be executed.

“Rodchenkov should be shot for lying, like Stalin would have done,” said Leonid Tyagachev, who was the head of Russia’s Olympic Committee from 2001 to 2010 and remains its honorary president. He made the remarks in an interview with a Russian radio station.

Rodchenkov was head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory between 2005 and 2015, and caused a sensation last year when after fleeing to the United States he claimed he had helped dozens of Russian athletes in a state-sponsored doping system that ran “like a Swiss watch”. He fed athletes cocktails of banned drugs dissolved in whisky or vermouth, he said.

Rodchenkov claimed that agents from Russia’s FSB security services helped anti-doping experts to switch clean urine samples for drug-tainted samples to fool testers, having found a way to break into bottles designed to be tamper-proof.

The revelations tainted Russia’s performance at its home Winter Olympics, where it topped the medals table with 33 medals, including 13 golds.

Two investigations commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) revealed widespread state-sponsored doping in Russia and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will decide next month on whether Russian athletes can compete at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. Recently there have been reports that Rodchenkov has provided further evidence to investigators about the state-sponsored nature of the programme.

Earlier this week, Wada said it would not reinstate the Russian anti-doping agency’s rights to operate, as Russia had not yet fulfilled the demands made of it, including publicly admitting to the state-run nature of the programme.

Russian authorities have opened an investigation against Rodchenkov, and have portrayed him as a rogue figure, not part of a state-directed programme. Last week, a Russian television channel spoke with two Russian athletes who admitted to taking banned substances provided by Rodchenkov but the report painted him as an out-of-control maverick.

Russian officials, including the president, Vladimir Putin, have made similar statements, admitting problems with doping but calling claims of a state-sponsored programme anti-Russian smears. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, called Rodchenkov’s allegations “slander by a turncoat”.

Tygachev said that Russian sport had proved it is clean and that if the IOC made unrealistic demands then Russia would simply boycott the Olympics.

“We are a strong enough country and we have shown the world how great we are in sport. It all shows that we are decent people on the right path and if people try to offend us unjustly, we don’t need them and we don’t need their Olympics. We are not going to beg on our knees.”

Tygachev’s call for Rodchenkov to be shot sounds extra chilling in light of the unexplained deaths of two of his colleagues. The former executive director of the Russian anti-doping agency, Nikita Kamayev, died last February from an apparent heart attack. He was 52 and had not complained of heart problems. He had reportedly contacted a journalist shortly before his death, offering to speak out about Russian doping. Vyacheslav Sinev, the agency’s general director between 2008 and 2010, died of unknown causes in the same month. – Guardian service

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.