Grigory Rodchenkov

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Grigory Rodchenkov
Born (1958-10-24) 24 October 1958 (age 61)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Alma materMoscow State University
AwardsOrder of Friendship

Grigory Mikhailovich Rodchenkov (Russian: Григорий Михайлович Родченков; born 24 October 1958) is the former head of Russia's national anti-doping laboratory, the Anti-Doping Center, which was suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in November 2015 for facilitating Russia's elaborate state-sponsored doping program. Rodchenkov helped develop and distribute banned performance-enhancing substances for thousands of Russian Olympians from 2005 to 2015.[1] He made headlines in 2016 as a whistleblower, helping expose the complex and extensive nature of Russia's doping program. His revelations were confirmed by the independent McLaren Report, leading to Russia's partial ban from the 2016 Summer Olympics and total ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Rodchenkov is currently in witness protection in the United States.[2] Two major Russian anti-doping executives, including Rodchenkov's friend Nikita Kamaev, unexpectedly died in the months after the doping scandal started.[3][4][5]

Rodchenkov and his connections to Russian doping were the subject of the 2017 Netflix documentary Icarus, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 90th Oscars ceremony.

Life and career[edit]

In 2005, Rodchenkov became the director of the Anti-Doping Center, Russia's national anti-doping laboratory. He and his sister, champion runner Marina Rodchenkova [ru], were under investigation in 2011 for trafficking performance-enhancing substances for Russian athletes and extorting them to conceal positive drug tests.[6][7] To avoid arrest, Rodchenkov attempted suicide and was hospitalized with a diagnosis of a paranoid personality disorder. Charges against him were eventually dropped by Russian officials. Rodchenkov claims that this was done in exchange for his cooperation in leading Russia's doping program for the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.[8] and that the orders for his release came from Russian president Vladimir Putin himself.[6] Rodchenkov's sister, however, was convicted and sentenced to a year and a half in prison.[9][10]

British journalist Nick Harris claims to have contacted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with allegations about the laboratory in early July 2013.[11] WADA officials and IOC members conducted two subsequent interviews of Rodchenkov on 26 March 2015 and 30 June 2015, where on both occasions, he admitted to intentionally destroying the 1,417 samples in order to limit the extent of WADA's audit and to reduce any potential adverse findings from subsequent analysis by another WADA accredited laboratory.[7] In November 2015, the laboratory was suspended by the WADA following a report alleging state-sponsored doping in Russia.[12] In February 2016, two former directors of RUSADA, Vyacheslav Sinyev and Nikita Kamaev, mysteriously died.[13]

Rodchenkov discussed doping at the Sochi Olympics with whistle-blower Vitaly Stepanov, who recorded 15 hours of their conversations without his knowledge.[14] Rodchenkov also gave details to The New York Times, alleging that the Federal Security Service (FSB) was involved in covering up positive doping samples.[15] In July 2016, the McLaren Report, an independent investigation commissioned by WADA found corroborating evidence after conducting witness interviews, reviewing thousands of documents, cyber analysis of hard drives, forensic analysis of urine sample collection bottles, and laboratory analysis of individual athlete samples, with "more evidence becoming available by the day."[16] The Moscow laboratory "operated under State oversight and control" and "personnel were required to be part of the State directed system that enabled Russian athletes to compete while engaging in the use of doping substances".[17]

On 9 December 2016, McLaren published the second part of his independent report. The investigation found that from 2011 to 2015, more than 1,000 Russian competitors in various sports (including summer, winter, and Paralympic sports) benefited from the cover-up.[18][19] Emails indicate that they included five blind powerlifters, who may have been given drugs without their knowledge, and a fifteen-year-old.[20]

According to McLaren's summary of the evidence provided by Dr. Rodchenkov, a key aspect of the doping scheme was the creation and use of a so-called "Sochi Duchess List". This list contained the names of 37 Russian athletes "whose samples were to be automatically swapped for their own clean urine stored in the FSB Command Center at Sochi". Those athletes' samples needed to be swapped because the athletes "had been authorised to use the cocktail of oxandrolone, methenolone and trenbolone during the Games".[21] The Russian Olympic Committee insists that the Duchess List is nothing more than a competition schedule, which was prepared ahead of the Sochi Games for the purpose of identifying potential medalists.

During the Arbitration between Alexander Legkov v. International Olympic Committee (IOC), the IOC submits that "Dr. Rodchenkov's account of events is truthful and accurate", stating:

  • Since Dr. Rodchenkov is no longer in Russia, he is now able to speak honestly with less fear of the consequences than if he had chosen to describe the existence and detail of the scheme while he was in Russia.
  • Dr. Rodchenkov's statements are precise and clear. They are also very consistent and contain "no contradictions" between the various elements of his account.
  • Dr. Rodchenkov only provided detailed information concerning particular athletes when he appears to have specific information relating to those athletes. In many cases, he simply mentions the athlete's presence on the Duchess List and the objective consequence of this, without seeking to add specific details.
  • On every occasion when other evidence has been available, that evidence has "systematically corroborated" Dr. Rodchenkov's account[22]

According to the IOC, minor inconsistencies in his testimony were considered unimportant. For example, the Duchess Cocktail which he developed was originally described in writing as a mixture of trenbolone, oxandrolone and methasterone; but was subsequently described as containing metenolone, not methasterone. Dr. Rodchenkov stated that the word "methasterone" in the original was a misprint.[23]

Rodchenkov stated that he personally had never distributed the Duchess Cocktail, had never seen an athlete take the mixture or instruction being given to either them or to coaches to use the substance, and had never seen an athlete give a clear urine sample or "tamper with a doping sample."[24] Dr. Rodchenkov also stated that: (a) he "never observed first hand any bottles being opened or de-capped"; (b) accordingly, he did not know the "precise method" used to open the bottles; but (c) he did see a "table with instruments that resembled a dentist's tools".[25]

According to the Arbitral Award in the arbitration between Alexander Legkov, Russia v. IOC, Dr. Rodchenkov's statement is called "a bare assertion which is uncorroborated by any contemporaneous documentary evidence. As such, the probative weight of this evidence is limited and the Panel is unable to find based on such evidence that the Athlete committed and ADRV".[26][27]


Following the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Rodchenkov the Order of Friendship.[15] In 2016, after the doping allegations were widely reported, Putin called Rodchenkov a "man with a scandalous reputation."[28]

The McLaren Report stated that Rodchenkov was "an integral part of the conspiracy to extort money from athletes in order to cover up positive doping test results".[7] It also found that Rodchenkov was truthful with respect to the subject matter under investigation.[17]

In November 2017, an IOC panel concluded: "Whatever his motivation may be and whichever wrongdoing he may have committed in the past, Dr. Rodchenkov was telling the truth when he provided explanations of the cover-up scheme that he managed."[29][17]

On December 5, 2017, it was announced that Russia would be banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics.[30] Following the announcement, Jim Walden, an attorney for Rodchenkov, issued a statement applauding the decision by the IOC that sends "a powerful message that it will not tolerate state-sponsored cheating by any nation."

As the world has seen, Dr. Rodchenkov provided credible and irrefutable evidence of the Russian state-sponsored doping system," Walden said in a statement. "Russia's consistent denials lack any credibility, and its failure to produce all evidence in its possession only further confirms its high-level complicity.[30]

Russia's doping program and Rodchenkov's work was highlighted in testimony before the U.S. Helsinki Commission (also known as the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe) in Washington, DC on February 22, 2018. During that hearing, Walden discussed Rodchenkov's work in detail and suggested that the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee needed to do more to restore integrity to international sport.[31]

Despite the information presented in the McLaren report, Russia was reinstated by WADA for international competition in September 2018. In an editorial published in the American newspaper USA Today, Rodchenkov expressed his dismay at the decision calling it "catastrophic."[32] [33]. His lawyer, Jim Walden, issued a statement on behalf of Rodchenkov saying that the decision to reinstate Russia is "the greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history."[34] Rodchenkov continues to fear for his life and remains in hiding under protective custody.[35]

In Russia[edit]

Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported that sports minister Pavel Kolobkov said the investigative committee found no evidence to support the state operated a doping system. That committee seeks Rodchenkov's extradition from the United States, where he is in witness protection. Despite assertions from Russian officials that no system existed, "empirical evidence is totally to the contrary," IOC member Dick Pound said, adding, "so I think what we're seeing in the Russian press is for domestic consumption."[36]

Lawsuit by Mikhail Prokhorov[edit]

Following Russia's banning from the 2018 Winter Olympics and the stripping of medals from multiple Russian athletes, Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, controlling owner of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, agreed to finance a defamation lawsuit in New York against Rodchenkov.[37] The suit claims that Rodchenkov defamed three Russian biathletes — Olga Zaytseva, Yana Romanova and Olga Vilukhina — when Rodchenkov included them on a list of athletes who took performance-enhancing drugs as part of a state-controlled program that corrupted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The women, who were stripped of the silver medal they won as part of a relay team, are seeking $10 million each in damages.[38]

In April 2018, Rodchenkov, through his lawyer, Jim Walden, countersued Prokhorov under New York's anti-SLAPP law claiming that Prokhorov's suit was frivolous and intended to limit individuals from exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech.[39] According to published reports, the countersuit is likely to seek the names of other individuals who are financing the lawsuit against Rodchenkov as well as information about the assets of Prokhorov.

"Prokhorov has assets here," Walden said. "We need to go about expeditiously securing them, so he doesn't go about taking them out of the country. You can expect that's what we're going to be looking at next."[39]

Walden stated that he believes Prokhorov's lawsuit was intentionally designed to uncover Rodchenkov's whereabouts in the United States and allow agents of the Russian government to find him.[40]


Rodchenkov was featured in the 2017 Netflix documentary Icarus, directed by Bryan Fogel. In Icarus, Rodchenkov describes his involvement in a conspiracy to help Russian athletes to beat doping tests in the Olympic Games.[41] On March 4, 2018, Icarus won Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.


  1. ^ Ruiz, Rebecca R.; Schwirtz, Michael (2016-05-12). "Russian Insider Says State-Run Doping Fueled Olympic Gold". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  2. ^ CNN, David Stokes. "Doping whistleblower urges Russia to come clean". CNN. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  3. ^ "Second former Russian anti-doping official dies suddenly". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  4. ^ Ведомости (2016-02-15). "Внезапно скончался бывший исполнительный директор Российского антидопингового агентства" [The former executive of Russian anti-doping agency suddenly dies]. Retrieved 2018-05-11.
  5. ^ "Анализ на крови. Один за другим загадочно ушли из жизни два крупных чиновника РУСАДА" [Analysis on blood. One by one suspiciously passed away two influential deputies of RUSADA]. Retrieved 2018-05-11.
  6. ^ a b "Icarus | Netflix Official Site". Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  7. ^ a b c
  8. ^ Yuan, Jada. "How Icarus Director Bryan Fogel Documented the Russian Olympic Doping Scandal". Vulture. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  9. ^ "Все мозги разбил на части. Родченков спасся от тюрьмы в психушке". 13 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Сестру директора антидопинговой лаборатории осудили за сбыт допинга". NEWSru. 12 April 2013.
  11. ^ Harris, Nick (25 July 2016). "The story behind the story of Russia, doping and the I.O.C". Sporting Intelligence.
  12. ^ "WADA suspends Moscow anti-doping laboratory". Deutsche Welle. 10 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Russian anti-doping official planned book before sudden death - CBC Sports". Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  14. ^ Keteyian, Armen (8 May 2016). "Russian doping at Sochi Winter Olympics exposed". 60 Minutes / CBS News.
  15. ^ a b Ruiz, Rebecca R.; Schwirtz, Michael (12 May 2016). "Russian Insider Says State-Run Doping Fueled Olympic Gold". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "McLaren Independent Investigations Report into Sochi Allegations". World Anti-Doping Agency. 18 July 2016.
  17. ^ a b c "Decision of the IOC Disciplinary Commission: Alexander Legkov" (PDF). November 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 November 2017.
  18. ^ Ruiz, Rebecca R. (9 December 2016). "Russia's Doping Program Laid Bare by Extensive Evidence in Report". The New York Times.
  19. ^ Ostlere, Lawrence (9 December 2016). "McLaren report: more than 1,000 Russian athletes involved in doping conspiracy". The Guardian.
  20. ^ Ellingworth, James (13 December 2016). "Emails show how Russian officials covered up mass doping". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 14 December 2016.
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ Arbitral Award Delivered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS 2017/A/5379 Alexander Legkov v. International Olympic Committee (IOC) (Arbitral Award), pp. 45–46.
  23. ^ Arbitral Award, supra, pp. 66–67.
  24. ^ Arbitral Award, supra, p. 67.
  25. ^ Arbitral Award, p. 63.
  26. ^ Arbitral Award, p. 145.
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Russian doping: Who is whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov?". BBC News. 19 July 2016.
  29. ^ "IOC judges back truthful whistleblower, ban 5 more Russians". Associated Press. Yahoo News. 27 November 2017. Archived from the original on 28 November 2017.
  30. ^ a b Hobson, Will (2017-12-05). "Russia banned from 2018 Olympics for widespread doping program". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  31. ^ "Attorney Speaks Russia's Doping Program, Feb 22 2018 | Video". C-SPAN. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  32. ^ "Opinion: Decision to reinstate Russia would be catastrophic in fight against doping". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  33. ^ "Opinion: Decision to reinstate Russia would be catastrophic in fight against doping". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  34. ^ Pells, Eddie. "Despite protests, Russia's anti-doping agency reinstated". Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  35. ^ "Olympic legend Thompson slams WADA chiefs as Russia get green light to compete". The Sun. 2018-09-20. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  36. ^ "Doping scandal: WADA to decide whether Russia is in compliance with code". USA Today. November 14, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  37. ^ "Russian Olympians file libel suit against doping whistleblower". New York Post. 2018-02-20. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  38. ^ Panja, Tariq (2018-02-20). "N.B.A. Owner Backs Lawsuit Against Russian Doping Whistle-Blower". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  39. ^ a b "Doping Whistleblower Sues Russian Olympians and Their Oligarch Backer, an N.B.A. Owner". The New York Times. 2018-04-30. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  40. ^ "Russian Doping Whistleblower Counter-sues Athletes, Russian Tycoon". Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  41. ^ Ryan, Patrick. "Netflix's wild documentary 'Icarus' exposes Russian doping scandal". USA Today. Retrieved 5 August 2017.