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MOSCOW, November 30. /TASS/. Former director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, who after taking refuge in the United States declared that he had eliminated some doping samples, had been trying to induce athletes into taking unknown substances, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Ilya Lazutov, said on Wednesday.
"Rodchenkov is known to have been persuading them to take substances possessing unknown properties," he said, adding that testimonies to that effect had been made by several athletes whose names he was unable to disclose.
The IC believes that "some criminal schemes may have been involved."
"He may well have created and led a criminal ring," Lazutov said.
He voiced surprise how one could believe Rodchenkov’s claims.
"We are utterly curious how one can believe allegations by someone suspected of committing criminal offenses," Lazutov said.
Over 50 Russian athletes, their coaches and managers have been questioned as part of an investigation into criminal cases involving violations of anti-doping rules.
Among them are former Deputy Sports Minister Yury Nagornykh and Natalia Zhelanova, a former advisor to the Russian sports minister on anti-doping issues.
"We are questioning everyone involved in the investigation regarding Rodchenkov," Lazutov said. "We are studying all claims regarding alleged opening of containers and substitution of doping samples."
"Requests for legal assistance have been sent to the US to receive testimony from Grigory Rodchenkov, to Canada, to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to obtain the copies of materials that have formed the basis for Richard McLaren’s report," Lazutov said.
"While investigating the criminal cases, the Investigative Committee continues to be open to cooperation with the relevant agencies and non-governmental organizations abroad, including the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee," he stressed.
According to IC deputy chief, Russia’s Investigative Committee has not yet received a single reply to its questions from international organizations regarding the doping row.
"The investigation is in the active phase. Its dates depend on how fast we will get answers to our questions. So far there have been not a single reply from a single international agency," he said.
The Investigative Committee remains open to cooperation with foreign agencies, non-governmental organizations and the International Olympic Committee.
"We do count on mutual assistance within the framework of cooperation for obtaining the necessary information," he said.
The Independent Commission of WADA chaired by Canadian law professor, Richard McLaren, released the now-infamous July 18 report on the results of a probe into the accusations of doping and manipulation of tests by Russian athletes and officials at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
The report from WADA’s Commission stated in particular that the commission’s investigation registered a total of 643 cases of Disappearing Positive Test Results in Russia between 2012 and 2015 involving athletes from 30 sports.
As a result, WADA suggested that the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and all international sports federations ban Russian athletes from all international sports competitions, including Rio 2016.
McLaren will present the final results of his probe on December 9 in London.
The WADA Independent Commission launched its investigation following media reports earlier in the year which were based on a testimony from former head of Moscow anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov.
Rodchenkov told Western media in spring that Russian athletes largely used performance enhancing drugs at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi with the approval from 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 reanalysis of doping samples collected at the 2014 Olympics and the Russian Investigative Committee launched its own probe into statements made by Rodchenkov.