Russia may sue NYT over Sochi Olympics doping allegations

Tom MarkLast Update : Friday 13 May 2016 - 3:21 PM
Russia may sue NYT over Sochi Olympics doping allegations

The Russian Sports Ministry could sue the New York Times over an article claiming the Russian team doped during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, local media cited a ministry official as saying. The official added that Russia rejects claims of a doping program.

“Yes, we are considering a lawsuit,” Deputy Minister of Sports Yury Nagornykh told TASS.

“They asked us to give comments on 66 athletes who are a part of Russia’s ‘doping system’. We said that we don’t have such a program.”

He added that NYT journalists have not provided the Russian Sports Ministry with a list of the athletes included in the alleged anti-doping program, even though officials have requested one.

Russian athletes reacted with fury over the report, which claimed that members of the Russian team used doping during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, describing the allegations as “total nonsense.”

A controversial report released in the New York Times on Thursday cited the ex-chief of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov. He claimed that Russian gold medal winners, including bobsledder Alexander Zubkov, cross-country skier Alexander Legkov and skeleton champion Alexander Tretyakov, doped during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

“Our athletes at the Olympics acted fair and square, with dignity…” Legkov, who won gold in cross-country skiing and silver in the men’s team cross-country skiing in Sochi, told Russian Match TV.

“What doping? He [Rodchenkov] talks about some [doping] cocktails mixed with alcohol, it’s nonsense – even funny to hear.”

In the report, the former chief of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory claimed that “he dissolved the drugs in alcohol — Chivas whiskey for men, Martini vermouth for women.”

“I didn’t drink Chivas. And I don’t drink it now, let alone the time before the [2014] Olympic Games. Rodchenkov should have come up with another, less funny story,” Legkov added.

Zubkov, a Russian athlete who won two gold medals in bobsleigh, also criticized the report, saying that Rodchenkov hasn’t provided any facts, just groundless statements.

“All this is nonsense, defamation against Russian athletes who performed at the Olympics. This is unacceptable. I’m not going to discuss this nonsense. If there are facts, we will discuss this,” he told Match TV.

Tretyakov, the third sportsman named by NYT, was outraged as well, saying he had never even met Rodchenkov, let alone taken banned substances from him.

“All methods are used in such political games. And no one pays attention to the dignity of those who are accused,” said Tretyakov, who won gold in the skeleton event.

He speculated on the quality of such “cocktails” mentioned in the NYT report. “If you once drink such a cocktail, it won’t help, will it? One needs to drink it every day…. And [you need to do it] during the Olympic Games. My competition started on the seventh day [of the Olympics]. I would have been drunk.”

Other Russian athletes ridiculed the alleged “doping plus alcohol” mix.

Vladislav Tretyak, president of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia and three-time Olympic champion, said he is “shocked.”

“[The Russian hockey] team was under the control of doping organizations. They could come at any time and take a sample. We need to understand and verify Rodchenkov’s words,” he added.

“Athletes drink Chivas before competing? I can’t take it seriously,” said cross-country skier Sergey Ustiugov, who represented Russia in Sochi.

Several paragraphs of the article are devoted to the topic of alleged switching of urine samples. Rodchenkov claimed that he and an anonymous colleague managed to dump “the tainted urine into a nearby toilet, washed out the bottles, dried them with filter paper and filled them with urine” which didn’t contain prohibited substances.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko called the accusations “absurd.”

“Cocktails? It’s absurd. They [the athletes] were being monitored during and after the Olympics. The accusations against them …are groundless,” he said, adding that Russian authorities will thoroughly examine the article.

READ MORE: World Anti-Doping Agency calls for Russia to be suspended from athletics over alleged doping fraud 

Rodchenkov has frequently been in the headlines in recent years. In 2015 the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) published a report accusing him of receiving bribes from athletes to suppress positive tests. He was also accused of destroying 1,417 samples requested by the investigation.

A WADA committee called for his resignation and Rodchenkov promptly stepped down. 

Since January, Rodchenkov has been living in Los Angeles.

Source: RT World

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