Late Rusada chief wanted to expose Russian doping

LONDON • The former head of Russia's anti-doping agency (Rusada) approached a Sunday Times (London) journalist 10 weeks before his unexpected death, offering to blow the whistle on his country's secret development of performance-enhancing drugs.

Nikita Kamaev, 52, former executive director of Rusada, said he wanted to write a book that would expose the full extent of doping in Russia.

Last year, The Times, London, revealed the scale of cheating at the Olympic Games and World Championships, where a third of medals in endurance events between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who had suspicious blood tests.

Kamaev sent an e-mail to the journalist in early December: "I want to write a book about the true story of sport pharmacology and doping in Russia since 1987 while being a young scientist working in secret lab in USSR Institute of Sports Medicine. I have the information and facts that have never been published."

News that he intended to reveal secrets will deepen suspicions over his sudden death from a heart attack on Feb 14. He had just returned from cross-country skiing close to Moscow.

A family friend said Kamaev's widow did not suspect foul play. Ramil Khabriyev, former general director of Rusada, said: "I do not have any suspicions."

In another e-mail sent on Dec 4, Kamaev wrote: "My personal archive contains actual documents, including confidential sources, regarding the development of performance-enhancing drugs and medicine in sport, correspondence with the anti-doping community, ministry of sports, IOC (International Olympic Committee), NOC (National Olympic Committee), Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency), personally and more."

Kamaev was the second former head of Rusada to die this month. Vyacheslav Sinev, whom he replaced as executive director in 2011 and who had a history of heart problems, died on Feb 3.

The death of Kamaev will leave the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to wonder what he might have revealed, not least about the involvement of the Russian state in the systemic doping of his nation's athletes.

It will also want details about the secret laboratory for which Kamaev worked as a young scientist from 1987.

A report for Wada in November revealed the existence of a second Moscow laboratory, in addition to one accredited by the agency, and concluded that its role was to cover up what would otherwise be positive drug tests.

Russia has provisionally been suspended by the IAAF from international athletics, but is desperate to have the ban lifted in time for the Rio Games in August.

Kamaev and other senior Rusada executives resigned after Wada published its damning report on Nov 9. The Russian agency was, in effect, shut down nine days later. Kamaev made his first approach to the journalist on Nov 21.

THE SUNDAY TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2016, with the headline 'Late Rusada chief wanted to expose Russian doping'. Print Edition | Subscribe