Audit found insider dealing at Rusada, says report

NEW YORK • A forensic audit of Russia's scandal-plagued anti-doping agency appears to have unearthed a new problem: Hundreds of thousands of dollars, and perhaps more, paid to companies linked to former senior executives.

The spending, documented by international financial consultants Baker Tilly in a report commissioned by the anti-doping agency's director general, was for drug-testing equipment and other goods and services.

According to a summary of the 54-page report viewed by The New York Times, the agency, Rusada, sometimes paid as much as 50 per cent more than market rates for the purchases.

"Purchases were not made through competitive procedures, but by the decision of key managers in the organisation," according to the report, which named the former head of the agency, Ramil Khabriev, as one of those involved.

The Baker Tilly analysis identified several companies that appeared to have only one customer, Rusada, and others in which a number of what it described as "former top managers" of the anti-doping agency were investors or co-owners.

The report also found examples of transactions with so-called "one-day" companies, which are operational for a short period of time, or for just a tiny number of transactions, before disappearing.

The accusation of self-dealing by former Rusada executives is just the latest scandal involving the agency, which in recent years has been accused of manipulating or covering up failed drug tests by Russian athletes and then working to sabotage an investigation into its conduct by global anti-doping regulators.

The audit of Rusada's finances was commissioned by the present director general of the agency, Yuri Ganus.

A former railway executive, he had no prior experience in sports administration before taking the post in 2017, but had experience with troubleshooting organisations in crisis.

One of the first tasks he undertook, he said, was to look through Rusada's finances.

When costs for equipment and other expenses seemed to be far higher than he expected, he hired Baker Tilly to look through all of their accounts.

"I saw the papers," Ganus said. "I saw big differences between what was proposed and the prices they received."

An investigation was opened, but the case was suddenly closed and Ganus has since written to the public prosecutor's office in Moscow to demand that it reopen the probe.

Details of the financial dealings at Rusada are merely the latest concern for the agency and for the credibility of Russian sports.

Late last year, the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from international sports for four years - including the Tokyo Olympics - after finding that laboratory data related to an earlier doping scandal had been manipulated.

Russia has appealed against its ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is expected to hear the case at the end of April or in early May.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2020, with the headline 'Audit found insider dealing at Rusada, says report'. Print Edition | Subscribe