MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. The criminal activities of former director of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov and his accomplices cannot be viewed as evidence of the existence of a state-sponsored doping system, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said at a press conference in Moscow.
Rodchenkov is the major informer for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which has been demanding that Russia recognize the conclusions provided by a WADA independent commission headed by Richard McLaren, which claims that a state-sponsored doping program existed in Russia in 2011-2015.
"Yes, the system failed," Mutko said. "And as we were told that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency did not work very well, we immediately agreed and fired every official, up to the fourth level. Western experts have been working there for the past two years, we are paying them huge amounts of money," the Russian deputy prime minister noted.
"Everybody says that though a lot of work has been done, the state still needs to admit that there was a special program. But the laboratory’s director and the crooks who surrounded him do not make a state program," Mutko pointed out.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Investigative Committee has announced that it received evidence of flaws in the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory’s database, allowing Rodchenkov to access it from abroad. The Committee said that the evidence proving sample tampering would soon be made public.
Last year, the WADA Independent Commission headed by Richard McLaren, released a report summing up the results of an investigation into the alleged violations of anti-doping rules during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. McLaren cited Rodchenkov, claiming that over 1,000 Russian athletes could have been involved in a manipulation scheme to conceal positive doping tests.
In July 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set up two commissions to look into the information provided by McLaren. Samuel Schmid’s commission is looking into the alleged involvement of Russia’s Sports Ministry in a possible cover-up of doping violations. The other commission, headed by Denis Oswald, is retesting doping samples taken at the 2014 Olympics. Following these investigations, the IOC will make a decision about the Russian team’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which is expected to be announced on December 5.
Spokesperson for the Russian Investigative Committee Svetlana Petrenko said earlier that ahead of the IOC meeting, Rodchenkov was bringing groundless allegations against Russia and talk about the swapping of doping samples.
At the same time, the Committee continues to investigate into a criminal case against Rodchenkov, charged with abusing power and destroying athletes’ samples. More than 700 athletes, coaches and medical personnel assigned to Russian national teams, as well as staff members of Russian sports federations, national training center, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and Anti-Doping Center, have been questioned. As a result, investigations collected enough information to reject McLaren’s conclusions and Rodchenkov’s allegations about the existence of a state-sponsored doping program in Russia, Petrenko stressed.