MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, who was the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) informant, believes that Russian athletes, who have not been involved in doping, should be allowed to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics at least under a neutral flag.
"Innocent athletes should not be prevented from participating," Rodchenkov told The New York Times newspaper ahead of the meeting of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which is expected to announce its final decision regarding Russia's participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The statement comes after The New York Times published extracts from Rodchenkov's diaries, where he wrote about his discussions with Russian officials, including then-Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko and Yuri Nagornykh, the former Russian deputy sports minister, about an alleged system for concealing Russian athletes' anti-doping rule violations.
In 2016, Rodchenkov told the newspaper that at least 15 Russian Olympic winners were part of the alleged doping program, with his testimony serving as the basis for the WADA independent commission's report on doping in Russian sport. Richard McLaren, the head of WADA's independent commission, presented a two-part report on anti-doping violations in Russia, which alleged the existence of a state-supported doping system, that resulted in a ban on the Russian track and field team from participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics and a total ban for Russian Paralympic athletes from competing in the 2016 Summer Games and the 2018 Winter Games.
According to Russian investigators probing Rodchenkov over the abuse of power during his term as the director of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) from 2009-2013, the WADA informant was the one who gave the doping substances to athletes disguised as vitamins.