The main players in the Russian doping scandal

AP News
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Posted: Nov 09, 2015 2:48 PM
The main players in the Russian doping scandal

MOSCOW (AP) — Following the release of an explosive report into Russian doping, here is a look at some of the main players in the scandal:

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VITALY STEPANOV AND YULIA STEPANOVA

The husband-and-wife team blew the Russian doping scandal wide open.

Stepanov is a former Russian anti-doping official and his wife is one of Russia's top 800-meter runners. Between them, they were able to gather a trove of evidence on how doping works in Russia.

Stepanov provided information on the manipulation of samples to ensure Russia's sports stars didn't fail doping tests, while his wife shot undercover footage of athletes and coaches apparently discussing how to dope.

That evidence was crucial to a documentary broadcast in Germany in December, which in turn sparked the WADA inquiry, and also features prominently in Monday's report.

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VALENTIN BALAKHNICHEV

The president of the Russian athletics federation for more than 20 years before resigning in February, Balakhnichev is "ultimately responsible" for the widespread doping that occurred under his tenure, the report says.

The WADA report also says Balakhnichev and another federation coach, Alexei Melnikov, may have been part of a scheme to extort money from athletes in return for covering up positive doping tests.

Details of the scheme are patchy because WADA's report refuses to go into more detail since French law enforcement is investigating the claims. Among those under investigation is Lamine Diack, the former president of the IAAF.

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GRIGORY RODCHENKOV

The head of the Russian doping laboratory in Moscow, which handled tests from last year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Rodchenkov stands accused of destroying 1,417 test samples shortly before WADA inspectors visited his facility.

Ahead of the Sochi Games, WADA threatened to cancel his lab's accreditation but eventually allowed it to remain certified to handle Olympic samples after Russia agreed to reforms.

Now WADA claims that officers from the FSB, Russia's internal security service, infiltrated the laboratory during the Sochi Games and that one suspected FSB officer held regular meetings with Rodchenkov. That indicates "Russian State interest and influence within the Moscow laboratory," the report says.

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VITALY MUTKO

As Russia's sports minister, Mutko oversees an empire of sports federations.

But WADA's report says his ministry also had improper control over Russia's national anti-doping agency and drug testing laboratory, effectively making them part of the state rather than independent organizations.

That influence even extended to the ministry giving orders to manipulate particular doping tests, according to one witness quoted in the report. Mutko himself is not accused of direct involvement.

His reaction to Monday's report was explosive, threatening to withdraw all Russian government funding from anti-doping work.

A longtime ally of President Vladimir Putin, Mutko has allies across the sports world. He is also an executive committee member at FIFA and has a leading role in Russia's preparations to host the 2018 World Cup.

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VIKTOR CHEGIN

Under Chegin, Russia's team of race walkers failed doping tests time after time.

More than 25 Russian walkers have been given doping bans in recent years, including four Olympic gold medalists from the 2008 and 2012 Games.

WADA's report says attempts to collect samples from athletes at Chegin's training base in June were repeatedly delayed as coaches tried to obstruct the testing.

Phone numbers listed for some athletes were false, while others did not answer. One coach is accused of trying to intimidate testers. Testers told the WADA commission they felt athletes were "scared" or "not acting of their own free will."

In the end, six out of 10 athletes tested at the base that day gave positive samples and are now suspended.

Chegin resigned from his post in July, a day after he was suspended by the Russian athletics federation. The WADA report recommends a lifetime ban.

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SERGEI PORTUGALOV

One of Russia's top sports scientists, Portugalov is accused of supplying top athletes with doping products in return for cash.

Portugalov's involvement with sports stretches back to the Soviet era and he is the head of a government-run sports medicine research center, as well as being the longtime chief doctor for the Russian athletics federation.

The report says Portugalov displayed "a complete disregard for the health and well-being of the athletes" in his care and recommends he should be banned for life.

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DICK POUND

Pound, a former WADA president, was brought back to chair the agency's independent commission into doping in Russia, since broadened to include further malpractice and inaction by IAAF officials.

The Canadian lawyer is also a former Olympic swimmer and has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1978.

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LAMINE DIACK

President of the IAAF for 16 years until 2015, the former long jumper now faces a criminal investigation on suspicion of corruption and money laundering.

After a tip-off from WADA, French prosecutors are investigating Diack over allegations linking his sons to extorting money from athletes who tested positive for doping.

Also under investigation are Diack's legal adviser, Habib Cisse, and the former head of the IAAF's anti-doping department, Gabriel Dolle.