Sochi doping claims meant to derail WADA meetings: Mutko

Moscow, May 9

Russia’s sports minister on Monday slammed claims that four Russian gold medallists at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics were drug cheats as an attempt to derail upcoming World Anti-Doping Agency meetings.

The allegations — the latest in a string of doping accusations to rock Russian sport — were made by whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov in an interview aired Sunday by American channel CBS. “The CBS film was purposely aired ahead of the meeting of WADA directors and founders,” Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS news agency. “Nothing is done just like that,” he added.

Russia won 13 gold medals at the Sochi Winter Olympics. The names of the alleged drug cheats were not revealed in the CBS programme. WADA will host meetings of its executive committee and its foundation board in Montreal later this week where they are expected to discuss doping in Russian sport, among other topics.

In the CBS interview, Stepanov — a former official with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) — cites Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of Russia’s now-discredited drug testing lab, as telling him that FSB state security service officers “tried to control every single step of the anti-doping process in Sochi”. A statement published on Monday by the Russian sports ministry said that Moscow was “certain about the transparency of doping control during

the Olympic Games”. “In addition to Russian specialists, doping control stations also employed foreign experts,” the statement said.

Stepanov and his wife, banned 800-metre runner Yuliya Stepanova, appeared in a 2014 German television documentary in which they alleged doping was systematic in Russian athletics, prompting WADA to investigate the claims. A WADA independent committee concluded in a report published in November there was evidence of “state-sponsored” doping and mass corruption in Russian athletics.

The International Association of Athletics Federations suspended Russia over the report, with the IAAF council due to decide in June if the country’s athletes can compete in Rio Games.