After being suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) back in November 2015, a “tell-all” in The New York Times by Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov confirms that systematic doping and tampering with urine samples was occurring regularly at the Moscow Antidoping Center in Russia. The lab, which had it’s certification pulled in April of 2016, was responsible for the testing of thousands of Olympic athletes.
Dr. Rodchenkov, former director of the Moscow lab, revealed the extent of fraudulent activities in interviews with The New York Times where he admits to creating a three-drug cocktail of banned substances, which was given to dozens of Russian athletes. The doctor spares no detail, elaborately describing his cocktail combination of metenolone, trenbolone, and oxandrolone which was then mixed with alcohol (whiskey for men, vermouth for women). The concoction was then used like any other mouthwash, the athletes simply had to swish the liquid around in their mouths and under their tongues for their bodies to absorb the drugs.
In what seems like a scene out of a movie, Rodchenkov describes the “shadow laboratory,” a storage space with the single window taped over, where he and his team passed urine samples through a small hole at the bottom of the wall near the floor. The hole was then concealed during the day by a small imitation-wood cabinet. A man, whom Rodchenkov believed to be a member of the Russian intelligence, would open the necessary bottles and supply the clean urine for swapping.
The urine had to be collected several months prior to the Olympics, before the beginning of the doping process, and were delivered in all sorts of forms, including “soda bottles, baby formula bottles, and other miscellaneous containers.” The tainted urine was dumped out, the bottles were wiped clean, and the clean urine was deposited into the bottles.
After the Olympics Dr. Rodchenkov received praise from all around, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), WADA, and President Vladimir V. Putin, who also awarded Dr. Rodchenkov with the prestigious Order of Friendship. To Dr. Rodchenkov Sochi was
…a strong accomplishment [and] the apex of a decade-long effort to perfect Russia’s doping strategy at international competitions. We were fully equipped, knowledgeable, experienced and perfectly prepared for Sochi like never before. It was working like a Swiss watch.
WADA has already confirmed that they will immediately begin to dive into Rodchenkov’s stories and the doping allegations surrounding the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
While Dr. Rodchenkov talks in full about the lab’s preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, where Russian athletes carted off a total of 33 medals, he admits that the “whole spectrum of Russian sport [has] been tainted by banned substances.”
The “tell-all” of Dr. Rodchenkov coupled with WADA’s November reports on track and field should lead FINA to question whether any of these practices were still in place during last summer’s 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia. At least in theory.
It also resurrects the controversy on FINA’s decision to name Putin with the FINA Order, the highest recognition that FINA can present.