By Kathleen Joyce, ,
Published February 13, 2018
The Russian whistleblower who revealed Russian athletes cheated in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi said he “fears for his life” and believed the “Kremlin wants him to stop talking.”
Grigory Rodchenkov told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he believed the Kremlin wanted him dead after he leaked information leading to the banning of Russian athletes from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
After banning the Russian Olympic Committee, the IOC said 168 Russian athletes passed its vetting process and could participate in the 2018 Winter Games -- but as neutral “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” The IOC punished Russia for its doping scheme during the Sochi Games by stripping the country of all 13 of its gold medals. Earlier this month, nine of the 13 medals stripped were reinstated.
Rodchenkov came forward with the information in a documentary titled “Icarus.” Playwright and actor Bryan Fogel sought Rodchenkov’s help explaining doping in the sport of bicycle racing, and found the former doctor had helped Russian athletes dope during the 2014 Sochi Games.
Rodchenkov told his side of the story to The New York Times, which prompted an investigation by the IOC. After the interview, the former doctor was placed in the Witness Protection Program in the United States.
Rodchenkov’s interview with “60 Minutes" was his first since seeking protection.
For the sit-down interview, the former doctor wore a bulletproof vest and a different disguise than his normal one. He said he is in disguise because his “life is in jeopardy.”
"There is information that my life is in jeopardy and we took all necessary steps," Rodchenkov said of his disguise.
He told “60 Minutes’” Scott Pelley that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted him to “stop talking” and he believed he could be killed even in the U.S.
Rodchenkov told Pelley he helped make a substance with three banned enhancements that he gave to Russian athletes. The country was able to win 13 gold medals but the former doctor said five of those were not won fairly. He said those athletes who were “dirty” were part of the “biathlon, skiing, bobsled and skeleton.”
Rodchenkov described to Pelley the scheme he and Evgeny Blokhin, an alleged member of the Russian Intelligence Service, went through to switch urine samples. Rodchenkov was working as the director of the lab that held the urine samples.
The doctor said Blokhin worked undercover as a plumber and was able to switch the urine samples in an elaborate plan that involved a mouse hole and overnight work.
“This was cheating on an industrial scale,” Pelley said.
“Correct,” Rodchenkov replied.
Rodchenkov told Pelley he believed Putin was aware of the doping program. The Kremlin denied any involvement and claimed Rodchenkov was the only person involved.
Rodchenkov, however, said he is telling the truth. When he fled Russia, he brought his computer that held files pertaining to the doping scheme.
His attorney, Jim Walden, is trying to get Rodchenkov permission to stay in the U.S. and not be deported to Russia.
Rodchenkov said he still believes countries are doping -- 20, according to him -- and hopes there could one day be a clean Olympics. He also acknowledged that he may have created a problem when generating doping substances.
“So now it's a big-- big problem, and I am sorry to have created such problem because of my experience and knowledge,” Rodchenkov said.