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Russian biathlete Ustyugov says never met whistleblower Rodchenkov personally

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

MOSCOW, February 18. /TASS/. Russian biathlete Evgeny Ustyugov told TASS on Tuesday that he had never met Russian whistleblower and former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov.

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) announced on February 13 that it found Ustyugov guilty of consuming banned performance enhancing drug Oxandrolone. The world’s governing biathlon body ruled to annul all results of the athlete for the period from August 27, 2013 and until the end of the 2013/2014 season, including his 2014 Sochi Olympics gold medal in team relay.

The biathlete has now 21 days to file an appeal against the IBU decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). In case CAS rules not to uphold Ustyugov’s appeal, he will be stripped of his 2014 Olympics gold medal. His teammates Anton Shipulin, Dmitry Malyshko and Alexei Volkov, who raced with him in the team relay event, will be also stripped of their gold and Russia will lose its top position in the overall medals standings of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Asked by a TASS correspondent whether he intended to appeal the suspension, Ustyugov said: "Yes, of course, and my lawyers are already working on it."

​​​​​​The athlete told TASS that he first heard about Rodchenkov after the scandal broke out. "It was at the same time as everyone else did — from media reports."

"I have never met with him personally," Ustyugov added.

Ustyugov, 34, is a two-time Olympic champion. He won his first gold in mass start at the Winter Olympics in Canada and his second gold at the 2014 Olympics in Russia’s Sochi in team relay event. After the Olympics on his home soil, Ustyugov announced that he wrapped up his sports career.

Whistleblower Rodchenkov and his doping allegations

Rodchenkov told Western media in the spring of 2016 that Russian athletes largely used 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 clinch most of the medals at home Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.

The former chief of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory also informed WADA about the so-called list of Russian athletes, who on the eve of the 2014 Winter Olympics allegedly used a doping cocktail that he concocted himself and named after a popular Soviet-era soft drink, ‘Duchess Cocktail.’

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 were filed against him. He was also put on the international wanted list.