Jim Walden, lawyer for whistle-blower and head of Russia’s anti-doping program Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, made his first public comments following the announcement of the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) regarding banning Russia following investigations of a doping scheme. Rodchenkov appeared in filmmakers Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan’s critically acclaimed documentary, Icarus, an expose on the Russian state-sponsored doping system. The two also made a statement applauding the IOC’s decision.
The news comes after the IOC announced that they will be taking steps to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee for “systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system.” However, they will allow athletes to compete in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang after approval by an IOC panel. Russian athletes chosen to compete in the games will do so as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia” (OAR) and wear a specific uniform. Instead of marching out behind of the Russian flag during the opening ceremonies, they will march behind the Olympic flag. During medal ceremonies, the Olympic anthem and Olympic flag will be played.
Fogel and Cogan said in a statement obtained by Deadline:
We applaud today’s decision by the International Olympic Committee. As we learned in the making of our documentary Icarus, the Russian state ran a vast, state-sponsored doping system that made a mockery of the Olympic ideals of brotherhood and fair play. We salute whistleblower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, who risked so much to tell this story, and support all those who are willing to speak truth to power.
Walden said, “Today’s decision by the International Olympic Committee sends a powerful message that it will not tolerate state-sponsored cheating by any nation.” He goes on to say that Rodchennkov provided “credible and irrefutable evidence” of the system was supervised and financed by then-Minister of Sports Vitaly Mutko and other “high-level government officials.” According to Rodchenkov, he replaced tainted urine samples with clean ones for Russian athletes during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and IOC confirmed Rodchenkov’s account. The IOC has also banned Mutko and his deputy Yury Nagornykh from future games. because of their direct involvement with the state-sponsored doping.
Icarus won the Sundance Film Festival’s inaugural Orwell Award. The film chronicles Fogel’s investigation into the international world of sports doping.