Grigory Rodchenkov claims Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov paid a Russian Olympian not to expose the country’s doping scandal.
The former lab director responsible for exposing Russia’s massive doping scandal claims Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov paid an Olympic athlete not to go public with the scheme.
Grigory Rodchenkov, who blew the whistle after fleeing to the United States, testified under oath that he was told Prokhorov paid “millions of rubles” (several hundred thousand dollars) to biathlete Irina Starykh to keep her quiet, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Rodchenkov did not learn of the alleged bribe from the athlete herself, though. Rather, he says a doctor responsible for delivering steroids to athletes, Irina Rodionova, told him Starykh was paid hush money by Prokhorov.
A representative for Prokhorov dismissed the allegation as “totally irresponsible hearsay” in a statement to the Journal. Starykh, in a statement to the Russia state news agency TASS called Rodchenkov’s testimony “a lie.”
Starykh was caught doping in Austria, away from the protection of Russia’s dirty lab workers, shortly before the start of the Sochi Olympics. Rodchenkov says the doctor told him Starykh planned to expose the state-run doping program and implicate a supplier of the widely used drug EPO in the scheme. Starykh did not speak out about the program, though. Rodchenkov says Rodionova told him it was because Prokhorov, then the head of Russia’s biathlon federation, intervened and paid for her silence.
Rodchenkov sought refuge in the United States last year amid fears for his safety and has been held by U.S. authorities in protective custody. As a result of his testimony, the IOC announced Tuesday that the Russian committee has been banned from this winter’s Olympics, though some athletes will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.