Russian cyclists tell WADA its ban relied on ‘criminal’s testimony’

Moscow, Sep 18 (IANS) Russian racing cyclists who were barred by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) from the 2016 Rio Olympics over doping allegations, have told World Anti-Doping Agency their ban was based entirely on a “criminal’s testimony”.

They have asked the WADA to remove from its report former Russian doping lab chief Grigory Rodchenkov’s testimony on an alleged state-run doping cover-up.

In August, Russian Doctor of Law Vladimir Botnev released a critical analysis stressing that the WADA report is based mainly on Rodchenkov’s testimony despite the former doping lab chief’s evident lack of trustworthiness, reports Sputnik.

Botnev cited WADA’s own information on Rodchenkov’s criminal activities, corruption, bribe-taking, blackmailing and active doping misconduct and quoted a 2015 WADA report which dismissed the credibility of Rodchenkov’s statements on doping sample destruction.

The report does not give any evidence of any pressure exerted on Rodchenkov to violate the doping code and the lab chief’s actions appear to be willful and pro-active, the analysis concluded.

“We cannot understand why we were barred from the Olympics due to this insane criminal’s testimony only, in violation of the World Anti-Doping Code provisions,” cyclists Dmitry Sokolov, Kirill Sveshnikov and Dmitry Strakhov said in their letter to WADA.

“We evidently were deprived of any fair possibility just to present our explanations in relation to these unfounded and false allegations made by such a persistent offender like Mr. Rodchenkov,” they said.

The letter reminded WADA of the fact that a criminal case over illegal substance trafficking was initiated against Rodchenkov in Russia as far back as 2011, but proceedings were avoided due to his alleged mental illness.

“Mr. Rodchenkov himself admitted to the commission of many severe violations in anti-doping, as well as commission of ordinary crimes such as perjury, illegal trafficking, fraud, blackmail, etc,” the letter added.

The letter has been sent to WADA as well as the International Olympic Committee (IOC), UCI, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, the Association of National Olympic Committees as well as Richard McLaren, the author of the WADA report, the cyclists’ representative Andrei Mitkov said.

The WADA report, published in July, accused Russia of running an athletes’ doping sample swapping scheme. The report led to the Russian athletic team’s suspension from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and its ban from taking part in the 2016 Rio Games. A number of other athletes were also barred from taking part due to being mentioned in the report.

Rodchenkov, who is currently lives in exile in the United States, is now being looked into by a Russian Investigative Committee, but US legal authorities have not been cooperative with the investigation and hardly respond to Russian requests for legal assistance, according to the committee.



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