Russian billionaires flee sports federations due to doping scandals

WADA issued a verdict - 4-year removal of Russia from participation in the Olympics and world championships. Who will be held responsible?
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December 9, the world of sports flew around the next big news. WADA World Anti-Doping Agency unanimously found Russia guilty of doping. The day before, experts accused 45 Russian athletes of using illegal drugs.

Russian sport plunged into the abyss of a doping scandal at the end of 2014. It all started with the exposure of the Mordovian center for walking and the investigation film of the German television channel ARD. The film made a statement that anti-doping legislation violations in Russia turned into a system. This triggered the first WADA test.

This was followed by a series of high-profile disqualifications and even the arrest of the head of the International Athletics Association IAAF Lamine Diak. He was suspected of receiving a bribe from Russia of € 1 million.

In November 2015, the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory lost accreditation. Then another important event occurred. The head of the Moscow laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, was removed from his post and emigrated to the United States.

It was from America that Rodchenkov began a massive campaign in the media, making a series of “sincere confessions”. He states that he personally participated in the substitution of doping samples. He also admits that he became the author of an innovative development - a “miracle cocktail” of steroids, which, allegedly on his recommendation, was drunk by athletes of the Russian team. These “confessions” provoked a second WADA investigation, depriving Russian athletes of Olympic medals in Sochi and not allowing the Russian team to attend the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Sport of big ambitions

Russian officials have spent a lot of money on creating the image of a "sports nation." For the Olympics in Sochi in 2014, according to the Accounts Chamber, almost 325 billion rubles were allocated. But this is official data. The Aleksey Navalny Anti-Corruption Fund gives other figures - 1.5 trillion rubles. This is all budgetary funds, private investment accounts for only 4% of this amount.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in Russia, cost the budget 679 billion rubles. This is almost $ 11 billion at today's rate. Most of the money, 551 billion rubles, was spent on the construction of new stadiums and transport infrastructure. However, significant funds were also spent on image-building events, on PR.

Another significant, albeit less promoted event, the Universiade in Krasnoyarsk in 2019, was already cheaper. Total expenses, including the construction of infrastructure and sports facilities, reached "just" 64 billion rubles. Compared to the Olympics and the World Cup, this is nothing. However, nationwide, this is a huge amount of money that would allow repairing hundreds of sports schools.

The budget of one Olympics in Sochi could be enough to cancel the pension reform. However, the authorities preferred to invest heavily in sports and shout about sporting achievements from non-stop flat-screen TVs.

Oligarchs were also involved in the work on the image of the sport, and sports federations were assigned to each of them. So, Irina Viner-Usmanova, the wife of Alisher Usmanov, the owner of Metalloinvest holding and a number of other assets, became the president of the Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation. Usmanov himself was assigned the Fencing Federation.

VTB President Andrei Kostin headed the Federation of Gymnastics. The "Aluminum King" of Russia, the owner of Coalco, Vasily Anisimov leads the Judo Federation. And the billionaire and chairman of the board of directors of NLMK Vladimir Lisin is also the head of the Shooting Union of Russia.

A businessman close to the Kremlin, Arkady Rotenberg, who is under US sanctions, heads the board of the Russian Hockey Federation.

For oligarchs, managing the federations was a fashion statement, an interesting hobby. Although it is likely that instructions to them about joining one or another federation were sent from the Kremlin.

However, the doping scandal made its own adjustments; a number of businessmen began to leave the "big sport". So did Andrei Kostin, who left the post of head of the Gymnastics Federation to his deputy at VTB, Vasily Titov. The president of the Areti group of companies Igor Makarov resigned as head of the Cycling Federation.

True, a reduction in funding has not yet been announced - they are waiting for a precedent. No changes in the financing of the Federation of Gymnastics after Kostin's departure, according to Vasily Titov, have occurred. On the Federation website, VTB is still the organization’s general partner.

It is not known how much funding for the Cycling Federation decreased after the departure of Igor Makarov; the Federation has not yet commented on this topic.

Other oligarchs, although they retain their posts in the federations, however, there have been significantly fewer statements on sports topics. It is not surprising - after 2015, in the midst of a doping scandal, the topic of sports actually became banned. Therefore, the desire of the business to move away from the federations that were accused of covering up “dirty athletes” is understandable.

Belted by Contempt

In fact, facts of manipulations with doping were still hushed up at the level of the Ministry of Sports. Other officials and representatives of the sports industry did not touch on this topic, fearing to get out of the mainstream of official politics.

A special place in this vertical was occupied by the Minister of Sports Vitaliy Mutko. In 2014, he said that the top officials of the national team are completely controlled, they do not accept doping. Allegedly only beginners are supposed to use prohibited drugs.

Then nobody began to refute the Minister. However, a year later Rodchenkov made his disclosures, and it became clear: in Russia there was a whole system of replacing dirty doping samples with clean ones. And Vitaly Mutko is personally involved in this system.

In October 2016, Mutko ceased to be the Minister of Sports. In international sports circles he is considered "toxic" and "not shaking hands."

“Magic Pill” for some time helped Russian athletes to demonstrate high results in competitions. However, after the revelations, the power of many of them disappeared somewhere.

However, the scandal may also help Russian athletes - to maintain health. Doping has a serious effect on the body, independent experts say. For example, meldonium is a chemical analogue of group B vitamins. It perfectly improves blood circulation, relieves stress, increases myocardial contractility, allowing the heart to pump more blood, therefore it is also used in equestrian sports, giving horses. According to veterinarian Natalia Shargalina, the drug also improves endurance, but it negatively affects the cardiovascular system. The product can be easily purchased: meldonium is sold under the guise of the veterinary drug Mildrovet from the Rubicon company.

Athletes can not use meldonium: in 2016, he was included in the list of banned WADA drugs by the class of hormones and metabolic modulators. And in the very first months of the new rules, more than 300 Russian athletes, including Maria Sharapova, were caught in the meldonium. Then their number was reduced, but it was this drug that "swept" almost three dozen eminent athletes, most of them representing Olympic sports.

Today, however, the terrible threat of meldonium looms over Russian sports. According to WADA, under the monitoring of the agency - which, as a rule, leads to an early ban on drugs - in 2020 ecdysterone may fall. Experts who conducted the study of this steroid using WADA funds believe that the drug can definitely be attributed to doping and should be banned. In this case, explanatory work among trainers, doctors and the athletes themselves should be started today, since no one knows the timing of removing the drug from the body, and the consequences of a drastic ban can be several times more serious than the meldonium scandal. This "Russian secret" is used at times more often than meldonium.

Involuntary violators

In January of this year, RUSADA officers suddenly rushed to the championship of the Siberian Federal District in athletics. As a result, more than 30 athletes withdrew from the competition, and some nevertheless went to the start, but did not cross the finish line - all in order to avoid checks. This suggests that there is no culture of pure sport in the country, athletes have no habit of undergoing regular inspections.

“Some athletes may use doping randomly, due to an insufficient level of knowledge about the drugs,” says Yuri Kuzin, head coach of the St. Petersburg children's hockey club Legion Novoselye.

“Doping is found in conventional household medicines. That is, those that we are all accustomed to using for malaise. The fact is that some components of conventional drugs can be considered doping and be banned by WADA, ”the expert explains.

According to him, one of the possible solutions to the problem would be educational program. It can be carried out at the level of trainers, sports doctors. The program of educational program could be developed by officials from sports, Yuri Kuzin added.

Russian Cyborgs

Yuri Ganus, director general of the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA, told the Company that the results of the WADA study of samples from the Moscow laboratory will be transferred to sports federations. The latter must initiate proceedings and go to court with them.

“There is no time when this will be done. It will happen at the end of December, in January or some other date - is unknown. One cannot even say whether all these cases will be considered together or separately. There are no standards here, ”said Yuri Ganus. When asked how substantiated WADA claims, the head of RUSADA did not answer, dropping the phone.

Yuri Kuzin noted that in Russia at the official level, WADA is accused of bias. He stressed that the actions of the World Anti-Doping Agency can be regarded as one of the instruments of pressure on the country.

The author of the book “Overcoming the Crisis” dedicated to Russian corruption, Ustin Chashchin, believes that the official position does not mean that it really is.

The expert joked that in this situation Russia needs to organize its own Olympics, where doping would be allowed: “Why not the State Duma to legalize doping and not allow adult athletes to take it? The competitions that Russia would have organized could be called the "Cyborg Olympics." Just imagine this enchanting spectacle - a competition where there are no checks and where athletes are allowed to use anything for muscle growth and results. Ordinary Olympiads will fade in the background of this mega-show. ”

The Ministry of Sports refused to respond to a request from the Company magazine whether they are aware of the latest WADA claims, noting that all comments will come later. Officially, Yuri Ganus emphasized: “If you noticed, RUSADA is the only organization on which the Compliance Committee (CRC) did not give any restrictions ... WADA considers our work efficient and productive.

So we will deal with the withdrawal of all our sports from the crisis. We will bring the federations in line (with the WADA code) and the training of athletes. ”