Another athlete claims she was extorted by Russia’s athletics federation, which demanded payment to cover up a positive doping test.
The documentary’s main allegations come from two Russian whistleblowers: Vitaly Stepanov, a former Russian Anti-Doping Agency official, and his wife, Yuliya Stepanova (formerly Yuliya Rusanova), a former 800-meter runner who has been banned because of abnormalities in her biological passport.
In the documentary Stepanova says she was frequently encouraged by her coaches to keep “clean” urine samples in a freezer for tests during training. At the Russian athletics championships she was instructed to text the number of her urine sample to an official, after which she would be able to “sleep in peace”. One covert recording shows her coach handing her pills said to be Oxandrolone, an anabolic steroid banned by the International Olympic Committee.“The coaches chose a girl, fed her pills and then she’d be off,” Stepanova said. “And the next day she’d be banned and then they’d say: ‘We’ll find a new one.’”Her husband said the Russian anti-doping agency regularly received calls from the ministry, asking to reveal the identity of athletes who had tested positive. “If it was an unknown athlete, the test remained positive,” he said, “but when it is someone famous, or someone young and a medal hopeful, then it’s a mistake, and it’s not reported.” Other disciplines, such as swimming, skiing or weightlifting, were not tested in the first place.
Evgenia Pecherina, a Russian discus thrower who is serving a 10-year doping ban, told documentary director Hajo Seppelt that a vast majority of Russian athletes are doping. “Most of them, the majority, 99%. And you can get absolutely everything. Everything the athlete wants,” she says in the documentary.
Another Russian athlete — also serving a doping ban — alleges she had to bribe the Russian athletics federation in order to compete in the 2012 London Olympics:
In a further interview, the Russian runner Liliya Shobukhova, a winner of the London and Chicago marathons, alleges she had to pay her own federation $450,000 in order to bribe her way into the 2012 Olympic Games in spite of abnormal blood test results for the period 2009 to 2011. When Shobukhova did not complete the race, she was banned after all and the federation paid her back a third of the money via a shell company. Documents shown in the film appear to show Valentin Balakhnichev, the president of the All-Russia Athletics Federation and treasurer of the IAAF, was aware of the transaction.
The BBC has more on the allegations made by Vitaly Stepanov and Yuliya Stepanova, plus alleged video evidence of a Russian Olympic gold medalist admitting to steroid use:
They allege that leading Russian athletics officials supplied banned substances in exchange for 5% of an athlete’s earnings and colluded with doping control officers to hush up and falsify tests.Yulia Stepanova said it was also common for Russian athletes to avoid out-of-competition testing by using false names while training abroad. …The documentary also included an undercover video purporting to show 800m runner Mariya Savinova, who won gold at the 2012 Olympics in London, admitting to using the banned steroid oxandrolone.
Per the BBC, the World Anti-Doping Agency said the documentary’s claims would be “carefully scrutinized” and that it had passed information it had already received to the IAAF. Per the Associated Press, the IAAF said it was already investigating the claims.
Reaction from Olympic athletes starting pouring in Thursday.
Here’s British marathoner Paula Radcliffe:
British rowing gold medalist Matthew Pinsent:
British marathoner Mara Yamauchi: