"Lies and Hypocrisy" - New whistleblower levels serious charges against Russian athletics

Doping in Russia

"Lies and Hypocrisy" - New whistleblower levels serious charges against Russian athletics

Von Hajo Seppelt, Florian Riesewieck und Thilo Neumann

A new whistleblower tells ARD German television of serious allegations concerning Russian athletics. Secret film footage supports the suspicion that coaches banned for doping offences are still free to continue working at the professional level.

Andrey Dmitriev knows that his testimony is unlikely to go down well back home - but the Russian 1,500 metres runner is determined to speak out. "”If everyone remains silent, as is usual in Russia, nothing will change",” says Dmitriev in an ARD exclusive interview. Seeing no sign of change in the Russian athletics world, he has declared his willingness to work as a whistleblower.

Dmitriev has evidence to support his claims. Like Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov, the first Russian whistleblowers, he shot secret video footage. Recorded on January 12, the resulting images feature Vladimir Kazarin, one of the most successful 800 meters coaches in the world - and currently suspended due to doping practices. He is seen in a sports hall in Chelyabinsk during a training session for 400 metres runner Artem Denmukhametov. "”I would not see him just letting it go. He just continues coaching",” said Dmitriev during a meeting in Kazakhstan.

"It’s imitating changes, but there are none really"

He also reports having seen Kazarin at a training camp in Kyrgyzstan in November 2016. This is the same man who previously supplied Yuliya Stepanova with banned substances, and coached 800 meters Olympic champion Mariya Savinova. The latter was later stripped of her gold medal due to doping offences. In April 2016 the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) instructed its regional associations to cease working with Kazarin - albeit, as it seems, to no avail. Andrey Dmitriev is in no doubt: ”"You say that we are changing, but these people are still there. This is just hypocrisy for me. It’s lying. It’s imitating changes, but there are none really.”"

Vladimir Kazarin  and Mariya Savinova 2012 in London.

Vladimir Kazarin and Mariya Savinova 2012 in London.

Dmitriev stresses that Kazarin is not the only individual still working despite earlier doping practices. He has given Germany’s ARD further names of prominent Russian coaches who ”are unable to work without doping” and who he claims are still active. Kazarin is not even the biggest name involved, claims Dmitriev. "I see the coaches who I know use doping, they are still there. And the athletes who I know for sure were doping, they still train there.”"

Vladimir Kazarin himself has not commented on the accusations made against him, likewise all other coaches and athletes named by Andrey Dmitriev. The Russian athletics federation failed to respond when contacted by ARD.

IAAF has reacted with alarm

The sport’s global governing body has reacted with alarm to these new developments captured on film. IAAF chief executive Olivier Gers confirmed to ARD: ”"If it is indeed one of the coaches that has been provisionally suspended by the IAAF, then RusAF should have been in a position to enforce that suspension. And therefore RusAF has not fulfilled the conditions for reinstatement.”" Whether the Russian federation can be allowed back into the fold under these circumstances, he adds, will now have to be decided by a special taskforce set up by the IAAF. On Monday its members will be convening in Moscow to meet the parties responsible. Given the new disclosures, the Kazarin case will be a major issue. 

In 2009 Andrey Dmitriev made it into the Russian junior athletics team before spending five years in the US, where he studied at the Virginia Military Institute. He’s now a professional athlete in Russia - but is determined to remain in the country and help to solve the problem even after now going public.

Younger: "Incredibly brave"

Günter Younger, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s chief investigator, says Dmitriev is ”"incredibly brave"” to have made the move. "Of course we will be contacting him, and will try to find a way together to ensure his protection,", said Younger in an ARD interview.

Whistleblower Dmitriev insists he never himself took any illicit substances. His philosophy: ”"Running a little slower but remaining clean is better than being quicker via dirty means."” That stance, he believes, puts him in the minority in the Russian athletics world. "Maybe 70 or 80 percent are dirty, and the rest of them are clean", he estimates. "I do think there are clean athletes, even on the national team." He says the latter, however, remain silent just like the majority of the Russian population when it comes to sensitive issues - for Dmitriev a mentality-related problem: ”"As a people, we’re not used to speaking up. We don’t believe it can bring changes. We wait until the president comes and changes something.”"

The whole interview with Andrey Dmitriev

The Russia athletics federation has been suspended from all international competitions since November 2015. The IAAF imposed the ban following the revelations by Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov on systematic doping in the country’s athletics community. Russia promised to improve and introduce reforms, while pushing for a swift repeal of the ban. In light of the disclosures made by Andrey Dmitriev, however, its chances of a successful resolution appear to have decreased significantly.

Stand: 22.01.2017, 10:37

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