Being a Whistleblower in Russia Comes with Life Altering Complications
Russia will not be at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games because of a massive doping conspiracy that came to light thanks to a native whistleblower. Now, according to US News, that man is now living in exile and in fear for his life.
US News reports that Grigory Rodchenkov is the former head of Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory, he and some of his colleges turned whistleblower against Russia. Rodchenkov’s allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-up at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics lead to extensive investigations by both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee.
Living in Fear
The article says that Rodchenkov is now in fear for his life and is in hiding in the United States. A spokesperson for him is quoted as saying “I think the future ahead is hard to chart but for sure, without any doubt in my mind, I can say he knows he is going to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life.”
Last month, Russia’s own investigative committee announced plans to ask the United States to extradite the whistleblower. Even though the IOC banning of Russia from the upcoming Olympics vindicated Rodchenkov, the Russians still want him back on their soil. Currently, the US does not have an extradition treaty with Russia.
The article notes, rather ominously, that two other senior former Russian anti-doping officials died suddenly within weeks of each other in February 2016. Russian officials say one of the men died of an apparent heart attack and have not released details on the other man’s sudden death. The US News reports says that Rodchenkov is worried for his family still living in Russia.
IN November, Sports Illustrated reported that the honorary president of Russia’s Olympic Committee believes the man (Rodchenkov) responsible for exposing the country’s state-sponsored doping program should be executed. The official, Leonid Tyagachev, went on to tell a Russian radio host that, “Rodchenkov should be shot for lying, like Stalin would have done.”
The Russian Response
Rodchenkov’s allegations were first published in the New York Times. This lead to a full-scale investigation and eventual ban of Russia from the 2018 Olympics. But so far Russia has admitted to no wrongdoing.
The article says that the IOC and WADA have warned Russian officials that retaliation in any form against Rodchenkov or his family is unacceptable. But the attorney for Rodchenkov says both WADA and IOC could do more on his client’s behalf.
He also says that Russia is making the situation worse by not cooperating and agreeing to reform, “My client is convinced that if they simply announced from the beginning what WADA expected of them which was to confess, cooperate and reform, that many Russian athletes would be playing South Korea this coming February.”
The Russian President has said that the country will not ban its own athletes from competing in the games, they will be allowed to compete under the IOC flag if they choose to. But many others in Russia have been quoted as saying athletes from their regions are banned from competing and they will not allow the 2018 Games to be broadcast in their states.
Jeffrey A. Newman represents whistleblowers: 1-800-682-7157