Dop­ing re­port shows depths of Rus­sia cover-up

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - SPORTS - By Ed­die Pells

The Rus­sians were run­ning out of time. Ex­perts from the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency were head­ing to Moscow to fi­nally re­ceive the trove of data they’d been seek­ing for two years.

In­stead of get­ting ready to hand it over, Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties stayed busy in a round-the-clock en­deavor to keep chang­ing, delet­ing and ma­nip­u­lat­ing the data. Gran­u­lar de­tails of the plot are sprin­kled through­out WADA’s pre­vi­ously con­fi­den­tial 89-page re­port, ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Among the most brazen projects, the re­port says, was the rewrit­ing of memos to make it look as though the man who ex­posed the plot was lever­ag­ing the Rus­sian dop­ing scheme to line his own pock­ets. The rewrites were also de­signed to elim­i­nate any record that one of Rus­sia’s own key de­fense wit­nesses in the case had done any­thing wrong.

“Treat all the files the same, and you can take your Bonus home,” said one of the doc­tored mes­sages, pur­ported to have been writ­ten by whistle­blower Grig­ory Rod­chenkov to another worker, Ti­mofey Sobolevsky, at the now-in­fa­mous Moscow an­ti­dop­ing lab.

In fact, the orig­i­nal mes­sages were to Sobolevsky from a key Rus­sian wit­ness and pur­veyor of the plot, Evgeny Kudryavt­sev. Those sim­ply said “OK,” and “Tim, we will soon be giv­ing it.” Kudryavt­sev has called Rod­chenkov, who lives in hid­ing in the United States, a liar. Rod­chenkov was not part of the orig­i­nal ex­change.

The doc­tored mes­sage was one of thou­sands of ma­nip­u­la­tions that were con­cocted long af­ter Rus­sia had agreed to hand over the data in its orig­i­nal form. In fact, Rus­sia was doc­tor­ing files as late as Jan. 16, 2019, while WADA’s team was al­ready in the build­ing, one day away from leav­ing Moscow with the now-sul­lied data in tow.

The de­tails of the de­cep­tion, por­trayed by WADA in­ves­ti­ga­tors as the “smok­ing gun” in the Rus­sian ma­nip­u­la­tion case, are in­cluded in the re­port, which spells out the ways Rus­sia re­worked data that was sup­posed to be used to pros­e­cute dop­ing cases stem­ming from its staterun sys­tem to win Olympic medals.

Sprin­kled through­out the 89 pages are a num­ber of ex­pla­na­tions the Rus­sians gave for the dis­crep­an­cies — among them, sys­tem mal­func­tions and rou­tine space-clear­ing op­er­a­tions that oc­curred at the be­gin­ning of ev­ery year — each of which is in­ci­sively bat­ted down by the WADA team of in­ves­ti­ga­tors, who went to painstak­ing lengths to con­duct foren­sic re­search on 23 mil­lion megabytes of data.

Re­gard­ing the forged mes­sages, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors drew a force­ful con­clu­sion: The Rus­sians were so fo­cused on al­ter­ing the mes­sages that made them look the worst that they scoured through 11,227 of the ex­changes to “iden­tify and delete 25 highly in­cul­pa­tory mes­sages.”

“They there­fore planted fab­ri­cated ev­i­dence into the 2019 ... data­base that would al­low them to blame those dis­crep­an­cies on Dr Rod­chenkov, Dr Sobolevsky” and another worker, the re­port said. “Such bad faith is in­deed stun­ning, and ... it pro­vides a lens through which the ex­pla­na­tions of­fered by the Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties for the fol­low­ing sub­se­quent events should be ob­served.”

Yuri Ganus, the head of the Rus­sian Anti-Dop­ing Agency, said the sanc­tions “were to be ex­pected, and they’re jus­ti­fied.”

RUSADA was ba­si­cally the only Rus­sian ac­tor that came off rel­a­tively un­scathed in the WADA re­port, in large part be­cause it has been to­tally re­vamped in the wake of the scan­dal.

But as the re­port spells out in alarm­ing de­tail, the govern­ment was busy try­ing to cover its tracks and tell new stories right up un­til WADA packed up the data and took it away.

PAVEL GOLOVKIN — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS, FILE

A car stands is front of Rus­sia’s na­tional drug-test­ing lab­o­ra­tory in Moscow, Rus­sia, in Novem­ber 2015.

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