Doping scandal around the Russian sport: Will the Russian team allow the Winter Olympics in 2018

By | December 24, 2017

McLaren’s report, test tubes, Rodchenkov and Oswald’s commission: a guide to the main scandal in the history of Russian sport.

Doping in Russian Sport

The autumn of 2017 promises to be a defining year for Russian sports in the coming years. The International Olympic Committee must decide whether there were global doping violations at the 2014 Olympics in Russia and whether doping tests were substituted for Sochi. The consequences can be catastrophic, up to the ban on Russia to perform at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. In order not to get confused in all the professors of McLaren, Rodchenkov, test tubes and scratches, KP prepared the most detailed guide to the scandal.

Doping control: what accuse Russia?

Ex-director of the Russian Moscow Anti-Doping Center Grigory Rodchenkov in 2016 went to the United States. And there he stated that during the preparations for the 2014 Olympics and during the Games in Sochi he conducted machinations with doping tests of Russian athletes. Rodchenkov said that he had withdrawn test tubes with the urine of athletes, and through a hole in the wall (in the documents it is called a “mouse hole”) passed them on to others. There, special jars with doping tests were allegedly opened (according to the manufacturer’s assurance, it’s impossible to open them imperceptibly), the urine poured out, and was replaced by clean pre-prepared samples, and the newly clogged tubes returned back.

Where is Rodchenkov now? What about him?

It is for certain unknown where Grigory Rodchenkov is now. In January 2016, he left for the United States, and four months later gave the interview to The New York Times the most scandalous interview after which the IOC instructed McClaren to interrogate witnesses and draw up his famous report. In the summer of 2016, including on the basis of the same report in Russia against Rodchenkov, a criminal case was opened.

It is believed that the chief informant of WADA in this matter is still in the United States. In an interview even before the scandal, Vitaly Mutko said that Rodchenkov in Los Angeles received under his leadership a laboratory. Experts have suggested that now doping tests of Russian athletes of the past years are rechecked according to the methods of Rodchenkov, and they are deprived of their medals.

In 2017, the documentary film Icarus was released, shot by Rodchenkov’s friend Brian Vogel, where the chemist once again repeats his accusations. And in August, one of the charitable foundations began collecting donations in favor of Rodchenkov, and hoped to collect 50 thousand dollars, which the organizers do not think the doctor has enough.

Based on Rodchenkov’s testimony, Professor McClaren’s famous report was compiled. In it, the charges were ordered, systematized and supplemented with a copy of Rodchenkov’s electronic correspondence with athletes and official Russian officials.

The conclusion of McLaren is severe: there was a doping support program in Russia. These materials were submitted to the International Olympic Committee. Now the accusations of McClaren and Rodchenkov are checked by two commissions of the IOC. Based on the results of their activities, a final decision will be made.

How does McLaren’s report verify the charges?

IOC to evaluate the report of McLaren created two commissions at once. They do not duplicate each other, but everyone works in their own field. The first is Oswald’s commission. She rechecks doping tests taken at the Sochi Olympics and finds out whether it is possible to substitute samples altogether. The second is Schmid’s commission. She finds out whether the employees of the Ministry of Sport have been involved in the scandal, and in general there was a program of concealing doping.

Schmid Commission?

Initially, this commission was to be headed by Guy Caniva. But he suddenly resigned and Samuel Schmid took his place. This policy is 70 years old, in 2005 he was the President of Switzerland, and then the Minister of Defense of the country (and was in charge of the sport). He will have to answer the question: did there exist in Russia “state support of doping” or “institutional collusion”. Formulations are very important here. The end of the work of the commission and the report of the results are expected in October 2017.

The Oswald Commission?

Denis Oswald is a Swiss lawyer. He is 70 years old, he is the bronze medalist of Mexico City-1968 in rowing, but is better known as one of the rivals of Thomas Bach in the IOC presidential election. The commission of Oswald re-checks the doping tests of Sochi-2014. McLaren’s report stated that in a number of Russian trials urine was diluted, that for the color, coffee beans were added to it, and for the desired density, salt was added. It was also reported that male DNA was found in one of the female samples. The work on re-checking is very difficult, time-consuming and, apparently, expensive. Especially, the task of the commission Oswald also includes the analysis of doping samples of Russians from the 2008, 2010 and 2012 Olympics.

$ 2.8 million was spent on the work of the commissions of Oswald and Schmid, created after the publication of the McLaren investigation, for repeated testing of samples and organization of work on this topic.

At first Denis Oswald spoke with harsh statements. In an interview, he said that Russia could lose its first team place in the medal standings of Sochi-2014. But for several months the lawyer has refrained from any statements. The end of the work of this commission and the report of the results is also expected in October 2017.

Doping tests: what are the scratches and why do they talk so much about them?

In addition, the investigation of Denis Oswald should give an answer to the question whether it is possible to uncover unnoticeably test tubes with doping tests, replace urine there, and plug them back. The manufacturer of the Berlinger Special AG test tubes claimed that this is unrealistic. And Professor McLaren found on the test-tubes scratches, which in his opinion testified that the samples were opened.

Tanks for doping tests are only formally called “test tubes”. In fact, these are jars, for a long time their official supplier is the Swiss company Berlinger. The cost of one jar is about 3000 rubles, and it is so expensive, because the manufacturer guarantees that they can not be opened. But after the report of McLaren Berlinger changed the design of containers.

He claims that for such a fraud in Russia, a special tool was developed, which is a thin metal strip with special bends. Just such a tool it was possible to pick up the hooks of the cap of the test tube, and to open it. And then, after changing the contents, screw it back. But after such manipulations, scratches remain on the glass. Denis Oswald must prove and show that all this is possible. For this purpose, his commission hired special forensics, whose opinion will be significant in court. At the end of the summer, rumors leaked to the press that Oswald found such experts.

If it is proved that the test tubes can be opened, it will be a blow to the entire world anti-doping system. If the Russians could do this in 2014, then someone could have done the same thing before. Moreover, in illegally opened test tubes you can theoretically dope and add. And all this means that many doping cases can be tried to disrupt in court.

Russia can be deprived of participation in the 2018 Olympics?

If the conclusions of McLaren’s report are fully recognized, it will be a disaster. The worst option: the entire Russian national team is disqualified for the Olympic Games – 2018. Then we will not go to Korea. Rare exceptions can be made only for selected stars, for example for the best skater of the world Eugenia Medvedeva or the legend of the short track Victor Ana. But they will be admitted only as neutral athletes, under the white Olympic flag and with the obligation not to wear anything, even remotely resembling the Russian tricolor. All this we saw at the World Athletics Championships in 2017, where several Russians performed under a neutral flag.

What kind of talk about a major fine?

This is a compromise option for punishments. From the Olympics can remove all Russians who have had problems with doping, even if they have long served their disqualifications. And besides, a huge fine can be imposed. In foreign media reported that allegedly this option was discussed between the IOC and Russia, and the figures were from $ 100 million. The Western public is extremely negative about this option, and if it becomes the main one, one more barrage of criticism will have to endure.

Will they deprive us of victory in Sochi-2014?

They can. Again, if the facts of McLaren’s report are confirmed, it is possible that part of the Sochi-2014 medals from Russia will simply be taken away. After McClaren’s report, it was mentioned that under suspicion are two Russian champions who won 4 gold medals. If the charges are considered justified, then these medals can simply be deducted from the overall credit. In this case, Russia from the first place in the overall medal standings to drop to the 3rd, having passed ahead of Norway and Canada.

What about the Paralympians? Do they really matter?

In all that the main Russian team is accused of, the Russian Paralympic team is accused of substituting samples, covering doping, etc. But if the IOC did not risk disqualifying the Russian Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee will fight after the McLaren report dismissed Russian Paralympic athletes from all competitions , including the Paralympic Games 2016 in Rio. This happened in August 2016. Since then, the sanctions of the PCR have not been lifted. The only thing that, in qualifying competitions for the Winter Paralympic Games-2018 Russian athletes with disabilities were allowed to participate under the neutral flag.

Before the RCC, 67 conditions were set, which they must fulfill in order to remove the disqualification. 50 they did. 17 could not, because from them their performance does not depend. But the main condition can hardly be fulfilled: the IPC requires Russian paralympicists to recognize all the accusations of the McLaren report.

Smironov Commission

To establish cooperation with WADA and the IOC, and start solving problems, in Russia, after the report of McClaren, the Independent Public Anti-Doping Commission (PLA) was established. Vitaly Smirnov became its chairman. Honorary member of the IOC and the ex-president of the OCD by that time was 81 years old, but IOC was trusted only to him. It is the commission of Smirnov that is considered the chief negotiator with WADA, the IOC and Professor McLaren.

The main thing that the PLA did was develop a National Anti-Doping Plan. Its main points are:
– A floodplain doping athletes, as well as their doctors and coaches, will take away the prize money and property.
– On drugs that contain illegal drugs, they will put special labeling “Doping”.
– Caught in doping athletes will be banned from taking on leadership positions related to sports.
– Establish an institute of “informers” who will report on doping violations.

Next Chapter. “The Case of Legkov”

Russian skier Alexander Legkov was recognized by the IOC Commission in the use of doping. He is disqualified for life, and Russia has taken away two of his medals in the Sochi Olympics – “gold” at a distance of 50 km and “silver” in the 4 × 10 km relay race. But the prosecution’s arguments look rather strange.

The case of Legkov (and another skier Yevgeny Belov, who was also found guilty) was considered by the IOC commission under the leadership of Denis Oswald. The prosecution had the following evidence:

  1. Testimony of the runaway professor Rodchenkov. He had a so-called “Duchess-sheet”. Rodchenkov said that he came up with a special doping cocktail: whiskey Chivas (for girls – martini), mixed with steroids. They athletes allegedly rinsed their mouth, and alcohol was needed for the rapid absorption of drugs into the blood. The cocktail was jokingly called “Duchess”. And Duchess-list, in turn, is a list of those athletes who allegedly used it.
  2. Again Rodchenkov’s testimony. He allegedly had a list, whose tests must be changed on the day of the competition.
  3. Scratches on test tubes. They, in the opinion of the IOC Commission, testify to the opening of the sample and the substitution of urine in it.

It seemed that these evidence are indirect and weak. But in the battle of accusation and defense, the accusation won. Ledkov was found guilty on the basis of these arguments.

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