In a new investigation by CBS news, Vitaly Stepanov has alleged that four Russian athletes who won gold medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics were using steroids.
Stepanov and his wife Yuliya initially came forward to German journalist Hajo Seppelt and revealed extensive state-sponsored doping within Russian track and field. That led to an investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), confirming the allegations as true. Rampant systematic doping within Russian track and field led to the team being barred from international competition for the foreseeable future.
In WADA’s report, released in November, the commission briefly touched on winter sports. For instance, they wrote that the Russian state security agency FSB was present in the anti-doping laboratory at the Sochi Olympics. However, despite a broad mandate to investigate doping in sports, that commission stuck almost exclusively to Russian track and field while at the same time acknowledging that the problems extended into other sports.
The CBS news story appears to go farther. Besides turning additional focus on the Russian track and field program – which is at risk of being barred from competition at the upcoming summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – it also delved further into conversations that Stepanov had with others in the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, RUSADA.
For instance, Stepanov recorded Skype conversations in which Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, who told him of a list of athletes he had protected from positive samples, including four Sochi gold medalists. He appears to be referring to steroid use.
Then there was this: “FSB tried to control every single step of the anti-doping process in Sochi,” Stepanov said.
Rodchenkov is now exiled in the United States as well.
As for who the four medalists could be, there are 26 gold medalists from 13 events, with some athletes earning more than one gold. They are:
Evgeni Plushenko – Figure skating team trophy
Yulia Lipnitskaya – Figure skating team trophy
Tatiana Volosozhar – Figure skating team trophy & pairs skating
Maxim Trankov – Figure skating team trophy & pairs skating
Ksenia Stolbova – Figure skating team trophy
Fedor Klimov – Figure skating team trophy
Ekaterina Bobrova – Figure skating team trophy
Dmitri Soloviev – Figure skating team trophy
Elena Ilinykh – Figure skating team trophy
Nikita Katsalapov – Figure skating team trophy
Adelina Sotnikova – Figure skating ladies’ single
Alexey Volkov – Biathlon men’s 4 x 7.5 k relay
Evgeny Ustyugov – Biathlon men’s 4 x 7.5 k relay
Dmitry Malyshko – Biathlon men’s 4 x 7.5 k relay
Anton Shipulin – Biathlon men’s 4 x 7.5 k relay
Alexandr Zubkov – Bobsled 2-man & 4-man
Alexey Voyevoda – Bobsled 2-man & 4-man
Dmitry Trunenkov – Bobsled 4-man
Alexey Negodaylo – Bobsled 4-man
Alexander Legkov – Cross-country skiing men’s 50 k
Viktor Ahn – Short-track speed skating men’s 1000 meters, 500 meters, & 5000 meter relay
Semion Elistratov – Short-track speed skating men’s 5000 meter relay
Vladimir Grigorev – Short-track speed skating men’s 5000 meter relay
Ruslan Zakharov – Short-track speed skating men’s 5000 meter relay
Alexander Tretiakov – Skeleton men’s single
Vic Wild – Snowboarding men’s parallel slalom & parallel giant slalom
“All his so-called revelations are based on speculations and are being actively distributed,” Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko told the TASS news agency of Stepanov’s claims. “The Olympics in Sochi have ended a long time ago. [It was] not Russia collected doping tests then [but the IOC], and everything was held under very strict control. I don’t know whether we should endlessly refute Stepanov’s (claims). We will see if there are any legal risks for us, we will think about defense… It is obvious that someone wants to harm Russian sports. Stepanov has exhausted the topic of doping in athletics, now he has probably started with the Sochi Olympics.”
If confirmed, the allegations will be yet another instance of journalists uncovering scandals that WADA itself failed to detect. In this case, the WADA commission would have had the opportunity to include Sochi results in its investigations, but apparently chose not to.
“We will watch the program with interest,” WADA spokesman Ben Nichols told Reuters. “We will not comment further until we have viewed the program in full.”
This revelation was a teaser for longer programs by CBS this weekend, which may reveal further information about winter sports. The interviews with the Stepanovs will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, May 8 at 7 p.m. ET/PT, and another excerpt will be included on the CBS Evening News at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT.
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.