LOS ANGELES: Four Russian gold medallists at the 2014 Sochi Olympics were drug cheats, doping whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov alleges in an interview for an upcoming edition of CBS television’s “60 Minutes”.
In an interview to air in full on Sunday, Stepanov, a former official with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), cites Grigor Rodchenkov, former head of Russia’s now-discredited drug testing lab, as telling him that FSB state security service officers “tried to control every single step of the anti-doping process in Sochi”.
Hosts Russia won 13 gold medals at the Sochi Winter Olympics. A brief preview of the interview released by CBS reveals no names of suspected dope cheats.
But the story could signal a widening of the doping scandal that has engulfed Russian athletics, with the country’s track and field stars facing a ban from the 2016 Rio Olympics in August.
Stepanov and his wife, banned athlete Yuliya Stepanova, appeared in a German television documentary claiming systematic doping in Russian athletics in 2014 — allegations later supported by an investigation by a World Anti-Doping Agency independent commission which found evidence of “state-sponsored” doping and widespread corruption.
Stepanov tells “60 Minutes” that Rodchenkov told him the doping activities he and his wife documented were the tip of an iceberg.
“He told me what I and Yuliya did we could only see this much,” he said, holding his hands up a foot apart.
“What was happening with cover-ups, it’s like this,” he then added, spreading his hands wide.
The International Association of Athletics Federations suspended Russia in November, with the IAAF council due to decide in June if the country’s athletes can compete in Rio.
In the “60 Minutes” programme, US Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart says he doesn’t believe Russian athletics has done enough to warrant reinstatement and USADA is “not in favor” of Russian athletes competing in
“They can’t come at the expense of clean athletes’ rights,” he tells “60 Minutes”.