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ARD TV channel claims Russian coach keeps training athletes despite life ban

June 09, 2:59 UTC+3 ERLIN
The fourth episode of ‘Doping Secret: Showdown for Russia’ was broadcast by ARD late on Wednesday
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Russian athlete Vladimir Kanaykin (L) and Viktor Chegin

Russian athlete Vladimir Kanaykin (L) and Viktor Chegin

© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov, archive

BERLIN, June 9. /TASS/. The authors of a new documentary on doping abuse in Russian sports shown on German television channel ARD maintain that Russia’s race-walking coach Viktor Chegin, former head of the Olympic Training Center of the Republic of Mordovia, keeps working with Russian athletes after being banned for life.

The fourth episode of ‘Doping Secret: Showdown for Russia’ was broadcast by ARD late on Wednesday.

ARD journalist Hajo Seppelt is heard on the film saying he was tipped by a Russian female track-and-field athlete, whose name was not identified, that Chegin was allegedly in the Black Sea town of Adler where leading Russian race walk athletes train.

He said he had sent an informer, a certain ‘Sergey’, to Adler to film this. The ARD footage showed a minibus with tinted windows where, as Seppelt maintains, Chegin was sitting (the face, however, could not be seen distinctly).

Then, as the film goes, the journalist meets with an anonymous informer, who maintains having seen Chegin in the minibus and says he continues training athletes. At the end, Seppelt meets with an experts, who earlier worked for German secret services, who compares Chegin’s photo with the that on the footage, and says he is ‘95-99% percent sure’ it was Chegin.

The film said the footage was made on April 27, while the decision of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to disqualify Chegin for life was approved by the Russian Athletics Federation on March 25.

Doping abuse case allegedly covered up

Hajo Seppelt also alleged that in 2014, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko did not make public information about a certain unnamed football player of Krasnodar club testing positive for doping substances.

He maintained having received from an informer minister’s correspondence with the anti-doping laboratory concerning the football player who had tested positive for hexarelin (having growth hormone-releasing activity), but went unpunished.

"The decision is being coordinated with VL (initial letters)," an unidentified specialist from the anti-doping laboratory writes. The film showed a page from the correspondence where all important information, including the name of the player, was rubbed over. Then the ARD journalist speculated that VL were initial letters of the sports minister’s name, jumping to the conclusion that doping abuse was hushed up at the state level.

Rodchenkov once again

The film couldn’t but mention ‘doping whistle blower,’ Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory. Seppelt said he knew him for a long time, and reminded the viewers of his loud statements published by the New York Times and shown on CBS News.

Rodchenkov sent a document to Seppelt in which he accused Natalya Zhelanova, Russian sports minister’s anti-doping adviser, of interference in the activity of the anti-doping laboratory, of disrupting plans to control biathletes and skiers. She was also accused of allegedly discussing bribes aimed to cover up doping abuse by Russian athletes with representatives of the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations). The film also showed a video footage (of 2015, according to Seppelt), in which Rodchenkov was saying that up to $5,000 had been paid to IAAF for each athlete testing positive for doping substances, including at the London Olympics.

Documentaries on alleged doping abuse in Russian sports

In December 2014, ARD aired Seppelt’s first documentary on alleged doping abuse in Russian sports. The documentary, entitled Geheimsache Doping (Doping Top Secret), claimed that Russian athletes systematically took banned substances on instructions from their coaches.

Last August, ARD and Seppelt came up releasing another documentary "Doping Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics." The film claimed that ARD and British newspaper The Sunday Times had obtained a leaked database belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which contained more than 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes in the years 2001 to 2012.

On March 6, Seppelt premiered the third part of his documentaries, entitled "Doping Top Secret: Russia's Red Herrings." In that episode he claimed that the Russian athletics authorities were not taking sufficient steps to clean the sports from doping.

The series of German documentaries prompted a reaction from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which ruled early last year to set up an independent body to investigate the issue.

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