Inside Russia’s Failed Doping Cover-Up

“We need to tell him straight and clearly, that we are creating the appearance of dirty samples, and the athletes and their trainers are bringing us bonuses,” one message supposedly sent to Rodchenkov reads. Another, which was altered to make Rodchenkov the sender, had its text replaced to read: “Treat all the files using the scheme, and you can take your Bonus home.”

“Russia must think the world is completely stupid if they thought anyone would believe their ham-handed fabrications,” said Jim Walden, Rodchenkov’s American lawyer. “When the full story is revealed, Russia’s desperate efforts to continue to falsely blame Dr. Rodchenkov will be fully exposed.”

While fake messages supposedly from Rodchenkov were added, others were deleted, including several from Evgeny Kudryavtsev, an official who had been responsible for ensuring that the biological samples of Russian athletes competing overseas were clean.

Eighteen of 25 messages deleted from the database relate to Kudryavtsev, according to investigators. In a signed affidavit provided to a separate International Olympic Committee investigation, Rodchenkov said Kudryavtsev was directly involved in sample swapping — replacing dirty urine samples with clean ones — at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Investigators also found evidence that on Jan. 6, four days before the WADA team was finally allowed access to the laboratory, 15,325 files and folders containing the “most relevant antidoping data” had been deleted.

Much of the data that remained simply did not add up.

WADA came to some of its conclusions by comparing the Russia-supplied data with the information in a database of athlete samples from the Moscow laboratory that it received from Rodchenkov in 2017. In those samples, analyzed between January 2012 and August 2015, investigators identified 578 suspicious samples from 298 athletes. Investigators hoped the secrets in the files that Moscow turned over would provide conclusive evidence of cheating.

In almost every case, though, the Moscow Data had been altered, either to remove any trace of failed drug tests or to alter the concentrations of prohibited substances to a level lower than the threshold for a positive result.