The Forum- Unfolding The Russian Doping Scandal

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

Yuliya Stepanova is a Russian Track Runner. She presently stands disqualified from all the titles she won back in 2011 and 2012. Yuliya was given testosterone by her coach to boost her track performance. After facing some ‘abnormalities’ in the report she was banned from the sport for two years. She taped the conversations of her coach and other athletes talking about doping. She sent the recordings to the ARD, a german channel which in 2014 released the documentary on Russia Doping its athletes under the name ‘How Russia Makes Its Winners’.

At present Yuliya and her husband (who was an employee in the Russian Anti-Doping Agency) are in protective custody in an undisclosed location in the United States Of America. The Steponavas famously claimed that 99 percent of Russian Athletes were doping.

The doping-cover-up is alleged to have involved Russian spies being a part of this extensive plan. This was a systematic act that demeaned the integrity and dignity of International Sporting events.

‘Tampering only took place during Grigory Rodchenkov’s work in the lab in the period from 2012 to 2015’ - Yuri Silaev, a Doping Expert for an interview with Russia TV’s Doping X-Files.

The 2017 Netflix documentary ‘ Icarus’ directed by Bryan Fogel unfolds the story of state-run doping. Dr Grigory Rodchenkov systematically explains how the doping was done and the country’s top leaders including the president, sports ministers were aware of its proceedings.

According to Rodchenkov, the clean samples were collected from the athletes and stored in the facility. These samples were stored in bottles that were standard bottles designed by the international commission. The athletes would continue with the doping programme and then provide the dirty urine samples. The dirty samples were switched with the clean urine samples in such a way that the seal was not broken and was later brought back into the facility where the testing was done. He also pointed out that the FSB building was located near Moscow’s anti-doping testing facility where the samples were stored.

The Russian government hit back stating that Grigory is schizophrenic and was also admitted to a mental facility after a suicide attempt.

After the documentary ran the world anti-doping agency (WADA) announced in 2014 they would set up an independent inquiry to inspect alleged allegations made in it. The commission was headed by the WADA president Richard Pound and Richard Mclaren. Before the report was published Lamine Diack, the International Association of Athletics Federation was under investigation for taking money to defer the Russian athlete’s sanctions. He was not allowed to leave France.

In November of 2015, the commission published its report confirming the state-based doping programme set up. Further, Russia’s athletic federation is temporarily suspended from international competition.

In 2016 Richard Mclaren published the second report. Rodechenkov’s article in the New York Times explained how he had made a special substance for the athletes to boost their performance and mixed it with liquor before the London Olympics in 2012. He denied extorting money from the athletes for which he was blamed by WADA in November of 2015. The times saw ‘CONSISTENCY’ with his narrative of events with WADA reports.

The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin described the report as a ‘dangerous slide towards political interference in sports’.

In 2016, The international Olympic committee allowed athletes to participate in the Rio Olympics. The committee had set rules of procedure to be followed by Russian participants and left the decision of Russian participation with individual sports committees. The IOC was criticized by many international organizations, athletes and WADA. Eventually out of 389 athletes 271 took part in the Summer Olympics. The Paralympic International Committee had suspended all of the Russian athletes from participating in the Rio Paralympics. The IOC further bans the Russian team from Pyeongchang Winter Games and allows the individual athletes to compete under a neutral flag provided they meet the criteria designed by the IOC.

In September of 2018 a document submitted by WADA headed as “a Roadmap to compliance”, the agency demanded certain requirements from Russia be met with. This included the database to be handed over from the Moscow anti-doping lab. The data was handed over in 2019. The software followed by the lab is called LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) this database can detect if Sample ‘A’ is tested positive for a substance, the number allotted to the athlete would be 1. This database, according to doping expert, Yuri Silaev was obtained by Rodechenkov and tampered with. The data from the Moscow lab and the data provided by the whistleblower - Dr. Rodchenkov had several inconsistencies. Rodchenkov’s data showed 298 doped athletes whereas the Moscow data showed only 29 doped athletes. Russia was given three weeks to explain the discrepancies.

The Russian authorities have claimed that Rodchenkov’s colleagues had logged into data on numerous occasions tampering with it. The Anti-Doping Chief, Yuri Ganus believed that the data had been manipulated which later the sports minister of Russia, Pavel Kolobhov denied.

On November 25, the Russian Athletics Federation be banned for four years from all major sporting events along with baring the Russian representatives from the Committee discussions.

Recommended- Watch Netflix Documentary 'Icarus'.



Mclaren Report, November 2015:

New York Times Article, May 2016: 
Russian Insider Says State-Run Doping Fueled Olympic Gold (Published 2016)

WADA Confirmation regarding state-run manipulation, July 2016:


Yuliya Stepanova, BBC:

Yuri Ganus, Russia TV:



All designs have been taken from Canva.


About the author

The author of the above article, Mehak Mathur, is pursuing the Bachelor Of Strategic Communication and Journalism degree at Mumbai University.

“My main motive is to provide people with factual and relevant information and hope to ignite their passions, help them connect with one another conducting insightful discussions and see the bigger picture.”

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