LOS ANGELES: A whistleblower who helped lift the lid on the drugs scandal engulfing Russian athletics said on US television on Sunday that state-sponsored doping extended to Russian competitors at the Sochi Olympics.
Vitaly Stepanov, a former employee of Russia s anti-doping agency who is now living in the United States, told the CBS network s “60 Minutes” program that he had been told of a doping cover-up during the 2014 Winter Games by Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of the now-discredited anti-doping lab in Russia.
Russia s sports minister, responding to a preview of the interview, had said Saturday that the allegations that at least four Russian gold medalists in Sochi were using steroids, were “speculation.”
In the complete interview that aired Sunday, Stepanov said he had recorded more than 15 hours of conversations with Rodchenkov, who told him that officers of Russia s FSB security service “tried to control every single step of the anti-doping process in Sochi”.
Although Rodchenkov did not to talk to “60 Minutes,” reporters said they had listened to the taped conversations and heard him discuss “the Sochi list” of doped medalists.
Stepanov and his wife, banned athlete Yuliya Stepanova, were key figures in a German television documentary claiming systematic doping in Russian athletics — allegations later supported by an investigation by a World Anti-Doping Agency independent commission.
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.
US Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart told “60 Minutes” he doesn t believe Russian athletics has done enough to warrant reinstatement and USADA is “not in favor” of Russian athletes competing in Rio.
“They can t come at the expense of clean athletes rights,” he told the program.