Jon Day, 12 August 2021
Grigory Rodchenkov’s first-hand knowledge of doping made him relatively unusual in the world of anti-doping – he often already possessed personal samples of some of the rarer drugs his lab wanted to detect, which were then used to calibrate their machinery. At first he worked directly for the state. To cover for positive tests, dirty samples would be made to disappear or left in such a way that they spoiled. Some were swapped with clean samples provided by coaches, friends or relatives of the athletes. So much doping went on that ‘in some training camps, finding clean urine was a problem ... The coaches were drinking gallons of water and emptying their bladders into their athlete’s sample bottles.’ To make the clean samples match the colour of the dirty ones, Rodchenkov and his colleagues added Nescafé granules. His grandest project – the one which eventually did for him – took place during the 2014 Sochi winter games, the first Olympics to be held on Russian soil since Moscow in 1980. Sochi was to be the ‘glittering jewel’ in Putin’s crown and Rodchenkov was under pressure to produce winners.