The world is still discovering the extent of the Russian doping operation orchestrated by the country’s ministry of sports that has gotten the country banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. While athletes who lost their medals appeal the decision, and Russian President Vladimir Putin blames the U.S. for manipulating evidence to make Russia look bad, the IOC will soon be finalizing its investigation of the doping scheme with the help of a Russian whistleblower who escaped to the U.S. One problem: The whistleblower thinks Putin might be trying to permanently silence him.
According to Yahoo! News, Grigory Rodchenkov, who is allegedly one of the masterminds behind the Russian doping plot, has been working with U.S. officials (and is currently in witness protection) while waiting to testify before the IOC. While Russia already charged Rodchenkov with drug trafficking offenses in order to allegedly interfere with his immigration status and force him to return to Russia, a more sinister plot could have already been set in motion. According to Rodchenkov’s attorney, Jim Walden, U.S. officials have warned Rodchenkov that it was likely that Putin had sent Russian agents to the U.S. to ensure he cannot testify. Yahoo! spoke with a law professor who added context:
Richard McLaren, a Canadian law professor who prepared a detailed report on Russian doping for the World Anti-Doping Agency based in large part on Rodchenkov’s evidence, said the Russian’s testimony is still critical in order to explain many of the entries in his diaries — a body of evidence about Russian doping that has not yet been fully explored.
“The Russians would like to shut [the investigations] down permanently, and the best way for them to do that is for him not to be around,” McLaren said. “The threat is real.”
While Russia is currently banned from participating in the upcoming Olympics, athletes from the country who meet rigorous standards from the IOC will likely be allowed to compete under a neutral banner. However, the IOC is likely to finalize its investigation and decide whether or not to uphold its ban before the Winter Games kick off in February.