The International Olympic Committee (IOC) faces “the most important moment in its history” when it decides whether to allow Russian athletes to parade with their national flag at Sunday’s closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, says Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov.
Letting them do so would be the IOC’s “worst decision”, he said.
Rodchenkov also said that “the Olympics could die” if radical reforms to support the fight for clean sport are not made.
The former head of Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory said the IOC was “falsifying” the anti-doping movement, which he said is also being “sabotaged by international sporting federations”.
Rodchenkov fled Russia in late 2015 with detailed evidence of the far-reaching state-sponsored doping regime he masterminded.
His claims led to the country being banned from February’s Games in South Korea, where 168 Russian athletes were allowed to compete as neutrals.
In a wide-ranging interview, Rodchenkov told BBC Sport:
- he would be dead if he had stayed in Russia
- he was “very sorry” to British athletes for helping Russian athletes to cheat at the London 2012 Games
- British sport had a doping problem too, and that he knew of “extremely suspicious” cases involving some of the country’s competitors
‘Countries not interested in catching cheats’
The IOC banned the Russian team from Pyeongchang in the wake of Rodchenkov’s damning testimony to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) McLaren report, and forced its athletes to compete under the Olympic flag.
However, it may try to draw a line under the scandal by lifting the suspension for the closing ceremony and allowing the Russian flag to be flown. The IOC is set to make a decision on Saturday.
“The IOC should show how they are consistent with the fight against doping,” said Rodchenkov.
“Russian officials reject any charges, they say I am a liar, they humiliated all whistleblowers, they gave false information in court, and if the flag will be allowed to appear it will be the worst decision.
“People understand what the IOC is doing; falsifying the fight against doping. It will scratch out all previous achievements, and its absolute disregard to all commissions, all conclusions, and to McLaren.”
Rodchenkov also warned that a failure to implement thorough anti-doping reforms could have a devastating impact.
“The IOC and Olympics are [in a] huge crisis. We need reforms. It requires some necessary things to be done, especially more money.
“There are ‘incorrigibles’ who, under any situation, will continue their smuggling, selling and using doping. We should be criminalising such cases.
“Sporting international federations are the biggest problems in doping control. I am sure they are hiding or not discovering dozens of positives.
“They don’t like to go into depth, and that is why doping control should be taken away from federations [and given] to Wada, and also be absolutely independent.
“In general many countries and many national anti-doping organisations are not interested at all to catch leading athletes in their countries.”