Last year, the former head of Russia’s national antidoping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, helped expose Russia’s extensive doping regime for Olympic athletes. Today, he fears for his own safety, according to a statement released by his U.S.-based lawyer, Jim Walden. Walden said that Rodchenkov might need to reconsider his cooperation with the International Olympic Committee due to his safety concerns.
Rodchenkov led the Russian antidoping center from 2005 to 2015. He fled to the United States in early 2016 following the mysterious deaths of two other former directors of Russia’s antidoping center. He subsequently detailed his extensive knowledge of Russia’s doping campaign with fellow whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov, who shared his information with the world during a blockbuster interview on 60 Minutes.
Rodchenkov has provided testimony and affidavits in numerous IOC cases regarding Russian doping. As a result, the IOC disqualified 43 Russian athletes form the 2014 Winter Olympics, resulting in 13 forfeited metals. Walden says that Russia has continued to retaliate against Rodchenkov and is lobbying U.S. officials to extradite him back to Russia, where he “would face death and torture at their hands.” Walden said that he unsuccessfully requested that the IOC take action to cease the relation.
In his statement, Walden blasted the IOC’s inaction on Russia’s retaliation: “My job is, among other things, to ensure Dr. Rodchenkov’s safety at all costs. Although he is a courageous man and fully committed to cooperation, as his lawyer I have to consider whether he should continue to compromise his own safety in order to provide evidence to the IOC. One thing is certain: if the IOC’s inaction is what whistleblowers can expect, no whistleblower should ever again come forward with information about fraud in the Olympics. Had I known of the IOC’s cowardice, I might have urged a different path.”
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