Russian Anti-Doping Agency issued a statement on Wednesday saying that the much-ballyhooed New York Times story titled “Russians No Longer Dispute Olympic Doping Operation” is grossly misleading. The statement claims that RUSADA’s acting head Anna Antseliovich was misquoted and her words were taken out of context.
On December 27th the Times — which for months has been aggressively alleging widespread Olympic doping by the Russians — published an article which claimed that Russian officials for the first time admitted their involvement in a vast doping scheme during the Sochi Olympics.
“Russia is for the first time conceding that its officials carried out one of the biggest conspiracies in sports history: a far-reaching doping operation that implicated scores of Russian athletes,” it begins.
The story then quotes Anna Antseliovich as saying “It was an institutional conspiracy.”
This quote was used by the author Rebecca Ruiz to affirm her story’s argument that Russian officials “no longer disputed a damning set of facts that detailed a doping program.”
However, according to RUSADA statement and Antseliovich herself, her words were taken out of the context and were a remark on the independent doping report by Richard McLaren, and not a comment on Russian officials’ involvement.
“[She] pointed out that in the second part of his report published on December 9, 2016, Richard McLaren no longer used the words ‘state-sponsored system of doping’ and instead referred to ‘institutional conspiracy’ thereby excluding potential involvement of the top country officials,” the statement said.
The New York Times journalist Ms. Ruiz, it went on to say, took those words out of the context “creating an impression that RUSADA management admits to the existence of such institutional conspiracy of doping cover-up in Russia.”
“We would like to stress that RUSADA has no authority to admit to or deny any such fact,” read the statement referring to the ongoing investigation.
Russia’s Minister of Sports Pavel Kolobkov reacted to the Times story as well, saying that the headline is incorrect and that it doesn’t correspond with the story itself.
“Antseliovich never worked for the government, she is the acting Director General of RUSADA, which as you know, is not a governmental institution. I think that the headline of this story doesn’t represent its content.”
Antseliovich also seemed disappointed with the way her words were used by the Times. Her post on Facebook read:
“My words were taken out of context. In my one hour interview I said a lot of things. For instance I said that it doesn’t make sense to talk about this matter before every accused athlete testifies and before the results of the investigation are presented by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation. Otherwise it is just a one sided story.”
Deputy to the State Duma Dmitrii Svishev expressed his confusion about the Times “scoop” as well, and even went to suggest that maybe some misunderstanding in the translation had occurred.
Earlier on Wednesday Kremlin spokesperson Dmitriy Peskov said that it still had to be verified whether the words of Antseliovich were attributed correctly and in the right context.
Kremlin denies the accusations that government was involved in the doping scheme of the Russian athletes.