- Russia’s ‘doper-in-chief’ whistleblower has opened up on the drugs scandal
- Grigory Rodchenkov admits helping Russian Olympic medal winners dope
- The 58-year-old says president Vladimir Putin was at the centre of the scandal
- Rodchenkov had no option but to enter US Federal Witness Protection Program
- The scientist features in a film ‘ICARUS’ documenting his life under the Russia regime, directed by Bryan Fogel
Grigory Rodchenkov is making a Skype call from somewhere in America to his wife Veronica, back in Russia.
The 58-year-old scientist, a key figure for at least nine years in Russia’s state-supported doping programme, is calling to say goodbye, perhaps forever.
For a long time to the outside world Rodchenkov was the respected head of Moscow’s anti-doping lab and outwardly a leading advocate for clean sport. But he had been living a double life.
THE DOCUMENTARY; ICARUS.
The scene comes in footage filmed in summer 2016. Few people know now where Rodchenkov is. Bryan Fogel, the filmmaker who tells Rodchenkov’s story in a new documentary, Icarus, certainly doesn’t.
The film, ICARUS, which had a world premiere at the Sundance Festival in Utah on Friday, 20.01.16., attended by The Mail on Sunday, also shows Fogel saying farewell to Rodchenkov, at Los Angeles airport, last summer.
If this all sounds like some Cold War thriller then the reality is even more bizarre, and chilling, Rodchenkov remaining visible only on the silver screen. Possibly it will stay that way. To some he is a brave whistleblower who eventually shared with the authorities his role in a massive sporting deception, as illegal as it was immoral.
WHAT IS ICARUS?
Four years ago filmmaker Bryan Fogel (photo over) embarked on a documentary. Fogel’s idea, as a clean amateur cyclist, was to examine what happened if he doped.
By an extraordinary twist, he was ‘mentored’ in illegal drugs by Grigory Rodchenkov.
After discovering his mentor’s role in state-backed Russian doping, Fogel, pictured, helped Rodchenkov flee, in fear of his life.
ICARUS details the entire saga.
To others, including Russian president Vladimir Putin, he is a ‘scandalous’ traitor who enriched himself via corruption, recklessly damaging his nation’s sport as well as his country’s reputation. The truth, as ever, lies in the shadows between.
Fogel’s 110-minute film started out with the premise that he, as a recreational athlete, would experiment with doping products and record it.
There is certainly a goofy, amateurish feel to the first hour of Icarus, with Rodchenkov almost clownish at first, dishing out advice from afar.
Fogel is not clued up enough at this stage, in 2014, to be aware of Russia’s doping system and is ignorant of Rodchenkov’s role in it.
Realisation dawns when Rodchenkov announces: ‘I am Mafia … Putin knows me.’
Photo: For 26 years, Dr. Don Catlin has been at the forefront of the global battle against the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports, and he is often referred to as one of the fathers of drug testing in sport.
The revelations that follow are extraordinary. Even the way Fogel met Rodchenkov beggars belief. Fogel first approaches Don Catlin — a figure long seen as leader of the modern anti-doping movement — to help him dope.
Catlin appears to agree and then changes his mind, recommending an old friend, Rodchenkov, instead. Catlin is asked on camera why Rodchenkov would be helpful and says: ‘I could answer that question but it doesn’t make Grigory look good.’
The clear message is Catlin knew Rodchenkov was a doping specialist even while still in situ as head of Moscow’s lab.
The Mail on Sunday asked Catlin on Sunday why he hadn’t personally helped Fogel to dope. Catlin said in an email: ‘Lab directors are under signed oath not to aid or abet dopers. I was interested in the results of such a study. I did not want to incur the wrath of WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency].’
Asked if he knew Rodchenkov was a doping facilitator when he sent Fogel to him, Catlin said: ‘I suggested he speak with Grigory, which he did. I have been involved with Russia for many, many years. It is a long story.’
GRIGORY RODCHENKOV WAS DOPING HIM SELF AS A YOUNG MARATHON RUNNER.
Rodchenkov reveals in the film that his own doping experience dates back to his days as a young marathon runner, saying he was taking performance-enhancing drugs administered with a needle by his own mother.
Rodchenkov says he later fell out with Sergei Portugalov, a veteran Soviet sports doctor named by WADA as a long-time senior doping organiser in Russia.
Rodchenkov says Portugalov obtained doping products from China but that source dried up. Rodchenkov found an alternative source, so became more powerful in the system.
Rodchenkov alleges it was this “power struggle” that resulted in his arrest by the Russian authorities in 2011 for drug dealing. It was at this stage, as the MoS (The Mail on Sunday) first revealed in 2013, that Rodchenkov tried to take his own life.
In ICARUS he describes how he drank a large amount of whisky, took a bath, and slashed his arms before stabbing himself deeply in the chest, grazing his heart. In the film he shows the scars. He says only a brilliant surgeon saved him. He spent months in a psychiatric unit.
PUTIN PERSONALLY ARRANGED RODCHENKOVs RELEASE FROM CUSTODY, AND PUT HIM TO BE “DOPER-IN-CHIEF”.
Arguably the film’s biggest bombshell — or rather the most significant backing up of long-suspected information — is Rodchenkov’s testimony that Putin personally arranged his release from custody to go back to work and oversee a continuation of the doping programme.
‘Putin requested me,’ Rodchenkov tells Fogel, describing the move back to the head of the lab and Russia’s appointed doper-in-chief as his ‘redemption‘.
Rodchenkov says he doped 30 Russian medal winners at Beijing 2008, and at least half of Russia’s 72 medal winners at London 2012 before orchestrating Russia’s dirty glory on home snow and ice at Sochi 2014.
Where all of this leaves the world of anti-doping — and Russia —remains to be seen. The film will certainly add an element of evidential weight to those arguing Russia is not fit to stage the 2018 Football World Cup and should be kicked out of the Olympics until they prove they have cleaned up their act.
Russia will argue they are innocent, betrayed and the victims of a western smear that seeks to hide doping by every other nation.
As for Rodchenkov, he’s in the wind. For now.
Source: By NICK HARRIS and ROGER PIELKE FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY 22.01.16