Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Like most former hacks, I get annoyed when current practitioners move too quickly away from the basics of a story, to outrage and 'What happens next ?'.

The Russian doping scandal is a prime example - a 323 page report quickly filleted for bald headlines, and a brisk move forward to find upset British athletes and question Lord Coe's credentials.

We're missing some great stories here. The commission's findings validate all the claims of whistle-blower Yuliya Stepanova, who, as Yulia Rusanova, ran the 800m for Russia from 2011, and was banned for two years in 2013, after the IAAF found abnormalities in her ABP, the electronic 'athlete biological passport'.

Yuliya married Vitaliy Stepanova, who worked for the Russian anti-doping body RUSADA for three years. Yuliya's fairly systematic secret recordings of conversations with trainers, doctors and officials form the core of the commission's report - recordings made as she was part of the complex progamme of drug cocktails and test avoidance. Yuliya's now 29, with a baby boy, and the couple left Russia, one suspects for good, as the ARD documentary which started all this went to air.

We miss the story of the Doping Control Officer who smuggled samples taken from Russian athletes out of the country, for proper independent testing - and who can't be named, after threats on his/her life, and to his/her family. We miss the stories of the Olympic Training Centre at Saransk, capital of Mordovia, and the extraordinary lengths gone to by officials to keep their athletes away from Doping Control Officers....and the cover-ups that are still going on.

We missed the fact that a number of the Commission's investigators on this difficult report were British - Martin Dubbey, Gabriella Re and Greg KitsellBrian Talay is a former US Navy Seal.

And, frankly, many more great angles...

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