Staunton, November 6 – During the Cold War, East Germany was notorious for the ways in which officials insisted that athletes use performance-enhancing drugs in order to win medals for East Berlin. Now, Vladimir Putin, who served there as a KGB officer, has brought this practice back to Russia, according to a new German television expose.
This week Germany’s ARD channel showed a documentary film prepared by Hajo Zeppelt and bearing the title: “Secret Doping: How Russia Achieves Victories.” Based on interviews with a variety of former Russian athletes, the film concludes that doping is now state policy in Russia (kommersant.ru/doc/2625487).
Russian athletes told him, Zeppelt said, that “it is dangerous to talk about doping” because officials do not want any information about what they are doing to reach a wider audience. “All Russian anti-doping labs work for the defense of national interests and conceal the use of doping,” he added.
The chief figures in the film were Vitaly Stepanov, a former employee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), and his wife, Yuliya Rusanova, a former Russian athlete who was disqualified from competition for two years for using banned substances. Both of them now live in Germany.
Stepanov said that his former employer was regularly visited by officials from the Russian sports ministry who did whatever was necessary to hide any positive test results for Russian athletes and sometimes even arranged things so that athletes taking banned substances were not tested at all.
Ruslanova added that Russian trainers require the athletes under their supervision to take these medications and that anyone who refuses to do so is simply dropped from the team and a replacement found. She said that athletes were told how to get around tests and that there were always supplies of fresh urine they could use rather than their own if the World Anti-Doping Agency carried out unannounced tests.
WADA officials said they would “carefully investigate” these reports, but Nikita Kamayev, the head of Russia’s anti-doping agency, dismissed them, saying that those who said doping was Russian state policy were themselves guilty of taking drugs and thus not particularly reliable as sources of information.