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Russian Doping Whistle-Blower Countersues Banned Athletes

Grigory Rodchenkov is the former head of Moscow's anti-doping laboratory. (file photo)
Grigory Rodchenkov is the former head of Moscow's anti-doping laboratory. (file photo)

A key whistleblower in the doping scandal that has engulfed Russian Olympic sports since 2016 has filed a countersuit against three athletes who earlier sued him for libel and a Russian oligarch who financed their legal action.

Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow's suspended anti-doping laboratory, filed his suit in New York State Court, asking that the athletes' suit be dismissed because it had been filed only to intimidate him. He was seeking unspecified damages in his countersuit.

The three Russian biathletes – Olga Zaitseva, Olga Vilkhina, and Yana Romanova – were all stripped of their medals from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as a result of Rodchenkov's revelations and the investigations they prompted.

They are seeking $30 million in damages.

Rodchenkov also sued billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who is a former head of the Russian biathlon federation.

Rodchenkov's attorney Jim Walden said that the athletes' suit had been filed solely in order to reveal Rodchenkov's location.

He has been in hiding since 2016 in the wake of the mysterious sudden deaths in Russia of two colleagues who worked with him in Russia's anti-doping agency.

Attorney Walden said that, if Rodchenko is compelled to testify in the athletes' lawsuit, he would do so remotely in order to prevent Moscow from learning where he is hiding.

Rodchenko's revelations were key evidence that led to various Russian suspensions from international sports competitions and a ban on sending a Russian team or using the Russian flag and other state symbols at the Winter Olympics in February in South Korea.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP