The 61-year-old had exposed the state sponsored doping program of his country.
It has been five years since Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s Anti-Doping Center, went into hiding in the United States after exposing his country’s state-sponsorship doping scheme. He has had no physical contact with his wife or children since late 2015, the year after he helped Russia cheat their way to the top of the medals table at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
In a recent interview with AP, Grigory Rodchenkov, who spoke from an undisclosed location with his face covered in a black balaclava and dark goggles that obscured his eyes, further revealed that making his current identity public is still too risky for him.
“It’s my security measures because I have physical threats to be assassinated and I want to live. [Vladimir] Putin, he is quite logical. He separates opposition in two ways – enemies and betrayers. I am in the betrayers’ category and all betrayers would be beheaded, cut, dead. So there is no doubt that he wants me to be dead.” the chemist-turned-whistleblower told AP.
“Sport is a part of Putin’s politics and showing to the West how good Russia is. You cannot trust Russia. You cannot trust the certification authorities, and (anti-doping) laboratories cannot be allowed to be restored within the foreseeable future.”
Grigory Rodchenkov was the brains behind the Duchess cocktail of anabolic steroids and the cover-up that resulted in Russia topping the medal standings at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, with 13 gold medals. Russian spies ensured that the Duchess would not be detected in doping tests as FSB agents used a hole in the wall of the Sochi laboratory to swap out the dirty samples with clean urine at night. Later, the doping cover-up extended into the Summer Games, Paralympics, World Athletics Championships and almost every major sport, before Rodchenkov’s evidence came out.
The evidence turned Russia into international sporting outcasts, as they were banned from multiple competitions such as the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games and 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games. To this date, the evidence sourced from the former head of Moscow’s main anti-doping lab continues to be used in cases against athletes that have represented the country.
“For me, it was the end of doping control,” Grigory Rodchenkov went on. “If we can do it, why others cannot?”
He also explained why he should be trusted by the world right now, adding that he did not have much of a choice back when he was still in his home country. “When you are a laboratory director and you have 50 employees and you are reporting to your high ups at the ministry, I could not even think about morals.”
Rodchenkov has had to convince the world he has since shed those ways and is coming clean. Most of the cases he helped to cover-up are likely to soon come to light after the World Anti-Doping Agency shared the data- of samples tested up to 2015, and tampering that continued into 2019- most of which was retrieved from his Moscow testing lab at the heart of the state-backed doping program.
He further dismissed concerns about any long-term damage to the health of athletes who were allowed to be pumped with steroids. Rodchenkov said, “It’s extremely debatable and still ungrounded. We see the generation who is now at the end of their lives of the 70s and 80s, which are still in a good physical condition after steroid programs. I had honestly, I’m sorry, but I had huge feelings of accomplishment. Those athletes I helped [to win] were extremely talented and I could not understand, with the coach, how he or she may lose to others.”
“The only explanation was doping. Then using some programs, we won gold medals. Honestly, it was like levelling the field. The problem is that the people from outside cannot understand what is going on inside sports. Only whistleblowers could do that. But in corrupted countries, you have to escape and we need to be preserved,” he concluded.