Up to “99 percent” of Russian Olympic athletes are doping and the Russian Athletics Federation (RAF) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) are covering up positive tests, according to a new investigative documentary. The report, by German journalist Hajo Seppelt and broadcast on German television, includes interviews with former Russian athletes who allege massive corruption within the two federations and that doping (using performance-enhancing drugs) was encouraged and a standard practice among Olympic athletes, the BBC reported.
Famous Olympians who tested positive would not have their tests reported, while unknown athletes were banned for a positive doping test, the Guardian reported. Yuliya Stepanova and her husband, Vitaliy Stepanov, served as whistleblowers and detailed the doping practices of Rusada, the Russian anti-doping federation. Stepanova, a former 800-meter runner, is currently banned by the IAAF for abnormalities in her biological passport, a set of blood and urine tests used to determine the effects of blood doping or steroid use over a period of time. Stepanov was a former Rusada official.
Stepanova said she was told to keep urine samples that would test negative in a freezer and to text the number of the sample to an official, according to the Guardian. She was also reportedly given a banned anabolic steroid, Oxandrolone, by an official. Another athlete, former discus thrower Yevgeniya Pecherina, corroborated Stepanova's claims of official compliance, according to the BBC. Pecherina is serving a 10-year doping-related ban set to end in 2023.
"Functionaries and coaches tell you very clearly that you can only get so far with your natural skills. In order to get medals, you need help. And that help is doping," Stepanov said.
Marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova, winner of three Chicago Marathons and the 2010 London Marathon, said she paid 450,000 euros to get rid of a positive test so she could compete in the 2012 Olympics. Mariya Savinova, 2012 Olympic gold medalist for the 800-meter, was reportedly recorded admitting to using banned steroids.
In response to the documentary, the World Anti-Doping Agency said it would open an investigation into the claims. "WADA has seen the German television documentary alleging systematic doping in Russia, and other breaches of the World Anti-Doping Code. WADA will ensure that all matters raised are fully investigated," the agency said in a statement.