A senior serving Russian anti-doping official has denied admitting that the country operated an “institutional conspiracy” during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Anna Antseliovich, the acting director general of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), supposedly admitted the nature of an operation which is thought to have implicated dozens of home medal winners during an interview with the New York Times.
Photo: Anna Antseliovich, the acting director general of Russia’s national antidoping agency. The country’s doping operation “was an institutional conspiracy,” she said while emphasizing that the government’s top officials were not involved. Photo:AP
Although she continued to maintain that the programme was not “state sponsored” because top Government officials such as Russian President Vladimir Putin were not involved, the comments were presented as marking a major departure from a previous stance in which they refused to directly acknowledge any wrongdoing at their home Games.
But in a later statement RUSADA have now claimed that the comments were taken out of context and instead referred to Antsliovich describing the findings of the McLaren report.
A full transcript has not yet been released, but the New York Times insist their quotes are accurate.
This comes after a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-commissioned report spearheaded by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren found that 1,000 athletes were involved in a doping scheme at Sochi 2014 and at a plethora of other events across Summer Olympic, Winter Olympic, non-Olympic and Paralympic sport.
Evidence of manipulation has been found in 28 out of 95 analysed samples given by Russian competitors at Sochi 2014.
Antseliovich, who has not been implicated in any wrongdoing and should play a key role reforming RUSADA along with new Supervisory Board chair and double Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, also claimed to be “shocked” by these findings.
Russia has previously attempted to dismiss and smear allegations made by whistleblowers including former Moscow Laboratory chief Grigory Rodchenkov.
Yury Nagornykh, the former deputy Sports Minister named by McLaren as a mastermind of the programme, was dismissed from his position in October due to his involvement following a decree signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
But the response to the New York Times article suggests that their broad denial of wrongdoing remains unchanged.
President Putin (picture over) claimed during his annual news conference last week that the country “never had such a [state-operated] system” in place.
“This is simply impossible and we will be doing everything possible to prevent,” he said.
“There must never be such thing as state system for doping support.”
International Olympic Committee (IOC) honorary member Vitaly Smirnov, the chair of a Russian Anti-Doping Commission, has also made similar comments.
“Russia never had the opportunities that were given to other countries,” he told the New York Times.
“The general feeling in Russia is that we didn’t have a chance.”
He did admit some wrongdoing, however, adding: “I don’t want to speak for the people responsible. From my point of view, as a former Minister of Sport, President of Olympic Committee – we made a lot of mistakes.”
Two Swiss-led IOC investigations spearheaded by the country’s former President Samuel Schmid and IOC member Denis Oswald will now consider the evidence of both the McLaren and Smirnov Commissions.
They will then consider how to sanction Russian results at Sochi 2014 as well as how to limit participation at Pyeongchang 2018.