Hard to nail Sochi drug cheats, says Pound

MONTREAL • Dick Pound, the former World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) chief who headed an independent commission that uncovered evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russia, believes that the recent allegations of a drugs cover-up at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics may be hard to prove.

Whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov, a former employee with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada), told the CBS News investigative programme 60 Minutes on Sunday that at least four Russian gold-medallists at the Sochi Games were using steroids.

He said this information had been given to him by Grigory Rodchenkov, Rusada's former head, and he had recorded the conversations.

Given the sophistication of the state-sponsored doping uncovered by his investigation, however, Pound was doubtful that, if four medallists did indeed test positive, it would be for steroids.

"By and large with steroids, especially if it is a state-run thing, they are pretty good about the clearance times," he said. "It is the not-so-gifted amateurs that sometimes get the clearance times wrong and end up testing positive.

"Generally speaking, if you know when your event is and you test positive, you fail not only the drug test but an IQ test."

EASY TO ESCAPE DETECTION

Generally speaking, if you know when your event is and you test positive, you fail not only the drug test but an IQ test.

DICK POUND, former head of Wada, evaluating the intelligence of athletes who fail doping tests.

Before Wada requests a re-test of Sochi samples, Pound felt the first step in any investigation should be another conversation with Rodchenkov, who is believed to be hiding in the United States.

"I think what they would really prefer to do would be to get hold of Rodchenkov," said Pound.

"He's a fairly slippery character. I interviewed him in Lausanne and there was lots of rolling of eyes and hands drawn across necks and stuff like that.

"He wasn't very forthcoming but I must say our terms of reference were so narrow that we didn't talk about it."

The latest doping allegations will not help Russian efforts to satisfy the International Association of Athletics Federations that it has done enough to have its suspension lifted to take part in August's Rio Olympics.

"The more the rot appears to spread, the harder it is for them to develop the kind of credibility they need on this," said Pound.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2016, with the headline 'Hard to nail Sochi drug cheats, says Pound'. Print Edition | Subscribe