Russian doping whistle-blower raises fears over Russia World Cup legitimacy

Vladimir Putin’s strong-arm tactics of suppressing opposition within and outside of Russia stretches to sport, as Rodchenkov’s evidence to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) shows. (AFP)
Updated 31 May 2018

Russian doping whistle-blower raises fears over Russia World Cup legitimacy

LONDON: Whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov has raised fears over the legitimacy of Russia’s World Cup team after revealing one unnamed player among their provisional squad is familiar to him from his time running the nation’s state-sponsored doping program.
Saudi Arabia kick-off the 2018 World Cup on June 14 with the hosts under a cloud of political and sporting controversy which threatens to spoil their party.
Vladimir Putin’s strong-arm tactics of suppressing opposition within and outside of Russia stretches to sport, as Rodchenkov’s evidence to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) led to the publishing of the McLaren Report in 2016 which revealed the country’s widespread doping across a number of sports.
As a result, Rodchenkov is under witness protection in the US under fear of his life, and spoke via Skype to the Sports, Politics and Integrity Conference in London on Thursday from a secret location and with his face obscured by a balaclava.
The former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory, which was responsible for covering up positive tests, most famously before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, knew of 34 footballers who tested positive for corticosteroids.
Rodchenkov said that former Sports Minister and head of the Russian Football Union Vitaly Mutko told him: “Football must be protected. Don’t touch football players. If you have any problems report to me immediately. There were 34 footballers who tested positive. These positives ‘disappeared’.
“There were 34 footballers listed in the doping control program, playing at junior, under-23, ladies and senior levels. It’s very important that they are still being investigated because we had initial tests but then the procedure was stopped and reported negative.
“I recognize only one name from the list for the national team.”
Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov is still to trim his 28-man squad to the final 23, which means the player familiar to Rodchenkov could be omitted but with just two weeks to go until the tournament, the uncertainty is perhaps the most concerning aspect.
Rodchenkov admits that doping in football pales in comparison to weightlifting and athletics and expects a “clean” World Cup with no positive tests because, “it will only be foreign doping control.”
But he also claimed that FIFA were far from thorough when examining evidence he presented to them in the wake of the McLaren Report. Last week FIFA ruled the 34 positive tests flagged had been re-tested and found to be clean by their lab in Lausanne.
Rodchenkov added: “I received a list of questions from FIFA, 60 of them.
“I didn’t have detailed information for some but I answered all of the questions. Seemingly FIFA were satisfied and there were no follow-up questions.”


National committees have final say on qualified athletes for Tokyo Games

Updated 03 April 2020

National committees have final say on qualified athletes for Tokyo Games

  • The Games were postponed by a year to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic

ATHENS: Athletes already qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will need to be picked again by their respective National Olympic Committees to compete at the postponed Games in 2021, the International Olympic Committee said on Thursday.

The IOC and Japanese government succumbed to intense pressure from athletes and sporting bodies around the world last week by agreeing to postpone the Games by a year to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“All of the qualifications that have been achieved by National Olympic Committees and individual athletes remain in place,” IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell said in a conference call.”

Any athlete needs to be individually selected because they represent their NOC. In all sports the NOC retains the right to select the athletes. 

“Some 57 percent of the 11,000 athletes had already qualified for the Tokyo Games before qualification tournaments were scrapped as the virus spread in recent months.

“The IOC is also efforting to make the athletes’ village available again after it was planned to be sold off as apartments after this year’s Games.”

“The village is part of the first priority,” the IOC’s Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi said.

“The village is the home away from home, a fantastic development. It is one of the very first tasks to re-secure this fantastic property. Yes, it is absolutely on that urgency list.” 

Dubi said those first priority venues, including the dozens of sports venues, convention sites and thousands of hotel rooms, would need to be re-secured quickly. 

“All of this has to be re-secured for one year later,” Dubi said. “It is a massive undertaking to get back to fundamentals.” He added that the IOC planned to have finalised talks for those “priority” locations in a matter of weeks.