Back in May, the former director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory came forward with reports of widespread doping among Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Grigory Rodchenkov, who had fled the country following a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation that implicated him, alleged that at least 15 of Russia’s 33 medal-winners from those Olympics had been involved.
Two months later, the results of the WADA investigation confirmed Rodchenkov’s claims and revealed “a greater systematic scheme operated by the Moscow Laboratory for false reporting of positive samples” beyond the Sochi scandal. The broader investigation led to the International Olympic Committee banning 271 Russian athletes (roughly a third of them) from the Rio Olympics this summer and the International Paralympic Committee banning the entire Russian Paralympic team from their event.
Now, finally, Russian officials have admitted to the New York Times that yeah, they did the doping.
“It was an institutional conspiracy,” Anna Antseliovich, the acting director general of Russia’s national antidoping agency, said of years’ worth of cheating schemes.
In a series of interviews, Russian officials “no longer disputed” conclusive evidence of widespread doping that included tampering with Olympic urine samples by members of the KGB-esque Federal Security Service, but continued to deny that the program was “state-sponsored.” Over 650 Russian athletes are currently accused of cheating.
Despite the change of heart, which probably had something to do with the IOC requiring an admission of guilt before Russia can be recertified to conduct drug testing or host another Games, the Times described their sources as “unconciliatory.”
“Russia never had the opportunities that were given to other countries,” said 81-year-old Vitaly Smirnov, Russia’s longest tenured member of the IOC, of the perceived Western bias in the Olympics. He was recently appointed by Putin to reform the country’s antidoping agency and reported to not know anyone associated with the coverup.
Victor Berezov, a lawyer for Russia’s Olympic Committee, intimated that Russia’s systematic cheating had only made international news because Rodchenkov had acted as a whistleblower. “Maybe in China, London and everywhere—maybe the same things could happen.”