Exclusive: ARD Documentary exposes Doping and Cover-up System in Russia / Active Athletes, Coaches and Insiders come clean
December 3, 2014
Editor’s Note: This is the English version of the press release put out by German TV network ARD on the Russian doping scandal. We apologize for the formatting but it was initially a PDF.
With a degree of clarity previously never seen, athletes, coaches and other
whistleblowers have undermined the reputation of this year’s Olympic and
future football World Cup host Russia – before the camera and with plenty of
evidence. In the programme “Top-secret Doping: How Russia makes its Winners”
(Wednesday, December 3rd 18.50 – 19.50 hrs., Das Erste – First German
TV Channel), several people involved in Russian sport deliver extensive
evidence about state-supported doping and massive corruption and coverups.
“You cannot achieve the results that you are getting, at least in Russia,
whithout doping. You must dope. That’s how it is done in Russia. The officials
and coaches clearly say by using natural abbility you can only do so well. To
get medals you need help. And the help is doping, prohibited substances”,
Vitaliy Stepanov told the ARD. Stepanov was an employee of the Russian
Anti-Doping Agency RUSADA for three years and even advised the DirectorGeneral.
He reports for the first time and openly before the camera about his
His wife Yuliya Stepanova (former Yuliya Rusanova), a world-class 800-metre
runner, currently suspended because of doping, accuses the Russian sports
system of only having achieved many of its successes through large-scale
fraud: “That is hammered into the coaches and the coaches hammer it into
the athletes. The athletes, therefore, do not think when they are taking banned
drugs that they are doing something wrong”. And she goes on: “The coaches
take any girl, feed her with tablets and then she runs. And tomorrow she will
be suspended and then they say, we’ll find a new one. They feed them and
say: ‘Yes, take that, everyone takes it. Take these substances’. And when
one is caught, they throw the athlete away and pick up a new one”.
In order to prove the allegations, Yuliya Stepanova has secretly made numerous
audio and video recordings at her own risk and made these files available
to the ARD. Thus, the recordings prove the involvement of one of the head
coaches of Russian athletes, Alexei Melnikov, and the leading sports physician
Sergey Portugalov in in the drug procurement system and the cover-up of
positive doping tests. Both Melnikov and Portugalov refused to answer the
ARD’s questions on doping practices.
In a cell phone-video passed on to the ARD-Doping Editorial Group, the 800-
metre Olympic champion from London 2012, Mariya Savinova, talks about her
doping practices, for example, the taking of the banned anabolic agent o-2
xandrolone. Her coach Vladimir Kazarin is shown giving tablets containing the
active substance oxandrolone to another athlete. All the videos and sound
recordings contained in the film are in the possession of the ARD-Doping Editorial
Group in their original, uncut and full length form. Kazarin and Savinova
did not respond to inquiries from the ARD.
The fact that, despite the apparent illegal use of drugs, there are so few positive
doping test results, is described by Vitaliy Stepanov: “There were times in
Rusada when I heard people from the ministry, from ani-doping departement
would call to Rusada and wanted to see who the athlete is, who has the positive
sample and if ist a no-name, then the sample is positive, if it is someone
famous or someone young and medal-hopeful, then it is a mistake and it is not
reported.” He goes on to add: “I clearly could see that officials try to make
sure that some athletes are not beeing tested.” That applied to athletes in the
sports of swimming, cycling, biathlon, athletics, weightlifting and Nordic skiing.
In an interview with the ARD, the current Director-General of RUSADA, Nikita
Kamaev, who only came into office after Vitaliy Stepanov had left RUSADA,
rejected all accusations. An e-mail in the possession of the ARD, however,
sheds a dubious light on RUSADA. In it, RUSADA calls on Yuliya Stepanova,
to pay for a drug test and to pay a visit for this to RUSADA. Doping tests with
notice, however, are contrary to the principles of an effective fight against doping.
RUSADA refused to answer specific questions about this.
The government influence on the apparent doping system is made clear,
among other things, by a decree of the government in 2010 under the then
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, which is in the possession of the ARD-Doping
Editorial Group. This indicates that the transport and export of urine and blood
samples by foreign inspectors must be approved by the authorities and such
samples may be even opened at the borders by customs. How athletes protect
themselves against controls abroad, is described, for example, by Yuliya
Stepanova: “In a training camp in Portugal, our athletes simply lived under
false names. They have taken banned substances, they undertook a course
of doping, and to ensure that foreign controllers did not come and test them,
they provided false names”.
The President of the Russian Athletics Federation, Valentin Balakhnichev,
also left questions from the ARD unanswered and in an interview situation
avoided any possible confrontation. Whereby, as treasurer of the World Athletics
Federation IAAF, according to research by the ARD-Doping Editorial
Group, he was personally probably even involved in the arguably biggest corruption
case in the history of athletics. According to her own evidence in the
ARD documentary, Liliya Shobukhova, one of the world’s best marathon runners,
bought herself the right to participate at the 2012 London Olympics in
return for a payment of 450,000 Euros to Russian officials. At this time, the
Russian Federation was already in possession of her extremely noticeable
blood levels in the years 2009 to 2011, which the World Athletics Federation
saw as a doping violation. Shobukhova claims that one of the Russian track
and field head coaches, Alexey Melnikov, demanded the money. According to
Liliya Shobukhova and her husband Igor Shobukhov, they paid the money
and were being told “everything will be fine”.
While research for the documentary was in progress, Liliya Shobukhova was
suspended after all by the Russian Federation at the end of April 2014. The
IAAF itself indicates that in the case of suspensions due to blood pass profiles
sanctioning may take longer, but speaks in the case of Liliya Shobukhova also
about a significant delay. According to Liliya Shobukhova and her husband 3
Igor Shobukhov they demanded the return of the money paid from the russian
sport officials. 300,000 Euros were in fact paid back to them. In the ARD documentary
evidence is shown, proving that the President of the Russian Athletics
Federation, Valentin Balakhnichev, was apparently involved in this process.
When questioned about it, Balakhnichev did not reply.
The World Anti-Doping Agency is shocked in view of the available concrete
and circumstantial evidence. WADA Director-General David Howman said,
“Well, the combination of all is terribly shocking. Individual components are
disappointing. When you combine everything and you look at the facts of this
documentation and oft the other things, that I have heard and seen, of course
it is shocking. What we’ve gotta do is to be fearless in approaching this issues
and make sure that those who are fearless are protected.”
Please, notice: The documentary (in German) can be seen still on stream at
this link. We are working hard to produce an English skript. We let you know
when it is online.