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Russian investigators plan to question German journalist Seppelt upon his visit to Russia

May 15, 2018, 16:36 UTC+3

Seppelt may be questioned as part of a probe into allegations of former national anti-doping official Grigory Rodchenkov

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Hajo Seppelt

Hajo Seppelt


MOSCOW, May 15. /TASS/. German journalist Hajo Seppelt may be questioned by Russian investigators as part of a probe into allegations of former national anti-doping official, Grigory Rodchenkov, Russian Investigative Committee spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko said on Tuesday.

"The Russian Investigative Committee will once again try to question Hajo Seppelt, in the event he comes to Russia, regarding his documentaries, in which he alleged wide-spread doping abuse among Russian athletes," Petrenko said.

According to her, the Russian Investigative Committee repeatedly filed requests to summon for questioning as part of its probe all people involved in mass media allegations on mass abuse of performance enhancing drugs in Russian sports and "among them are Grigory Rodchenkov, Hajo Seppelt and Richard McLaren."

"However, the (Russian) Investigative Committee received a reply from Germany stating that the German journalist exercised his legitimate rights and refused to be questioned as part of the probe," she said.

Last week, German public broadcaster ARD announced that its sports journalist Hajo Seppelt was refused an entry visit to Russia, therefore he was allegedly denied to fulfill his professional obligations delivering reports about the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup.

However, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote in his Twitter account later that Seppelt was granted a visa to enter Russia for the duration of the international football championship. German magazine Stern also confirmed in its publications that ARD’s sports journalist Seppelt was issued a visa to travel to Russia.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission, chaired by Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren, delivered two parts of its report in 2016, namely in July and in December, on the alleged doping abuse and manipulations by Russian athletes and officials.

The WADA Independent Commission decided to launch its investigation following media reports, initiated by provided materials of German sports journalist Hajo Seppelt and based on testimony from a former head of Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov.

Rodchenkov told Western media in the spring of 2016 that Russian athletes largely used banned performance enhancing drugs at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi with the approval of the national sports authorities.

On the whole, the ex-doping official claimed that the Russian sports authorities allegedly prepared a special doping program for national athletes in order to win most of the medals at home Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.

Following Rodchenkov’s allegations and McLaren’s report, the IOC ordered a re-test of doping samples collected at the 2014 Olympics and the Russian Investigative Committee launched its own probe into statements made by Rodchenkov.

The former chief of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory also gave WADA last year what he said was a list of athletes who on the eve of the 2014 Winter Olympics allegedly had used a doping cocktail that he concocted and named after a popular Soviet-era soft drink.

On June 8, 2016, Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal case against Rodchenkov on charges of power abuse. On September 21, 2017 Moscow’s Basmanny District Court arrested him in absentia.

In November 2017, the Russian Investigative Committee announced that it would seek the extradition of Rodchenkov, who absconded to the United States in 2015. In addition, an obstruction of justice charges was filed against him. He was also put on the international wanted list.

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