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Banned Russian pursuit riders threaten legal action against WADA and Rodchenkov

Kirill Sveshnikov (Russia).

Kirill Sveshnikov (Russia). (Image credit: AFP)

Dmitry Sokolov, Kirill Sveshnikov and Dmitry Strakhov, the Russian team pursuit riders who were barred from participating in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, have threatened legal action against the World Anti-Doping Agency and the former Moscow lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, according to

Russia was forced to withdraw from the team pursuit after Sokolov, Sveshnikov and Strakhov were implicated in the WADA-mandated McLaren Report, which examined allegations that the state had covered up positive doping cases across a range of sports in recent years. The three riders made an unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the eve of the Games. reports that a letter sent by Sokolov, Sveshnikov and Strakhov to WADA, the UCI and the IOC reveals that they had been accused of taking EPO in the McLaren report, a charge the three riders have denied.

In the letter, the three riders question the evidence provided by Rodchenkov, who resigned as director of the Moscow lab in January and left for the United States due to concern for his safety. In an interview with the New York Times in May, Rodchenkov providing damning detail of the Moscow lab's manipulation of anti-doping samples at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. A spokesman for Vladimir Putin dismissed his allegations as "a turncoat's libel."

"We cannot understand why we were barred from the Olympics due to this insance [sic] criminal's testimony, in violation of the World Anti-Doping Code provisions," Sokolov, Sveshnikov and Strakhov wrote of Rodchenkov in their letter.

"We evidently were deprived of any fair possibility just to present our explanations in relation to these unfounded and false allegations made by such a persistent offender like Mr Rodchenkov."

According to Insidethegames, Sokolov, Sveshnikov and Strakhov have threatened to sue both Rochchenkov and WADA, and have called for a "commission of independent experts" – including representatives from Russia – to examine their case.

"We are still sure that the WADA and the IOC share our interest to protect clean athletes, to fight doping and to clean the sport and the Olympic Movement of dirty scandals and of unfair systems [sic] supported by some WADA ex-officials, and to reveal the truth ensuring a level playing field in different sports and in applying severe sanctions for athletes as well..." they wrote.

WADA confirmed receipt of the letter from Sokolov, Sveshnikov and Strakhov and said that Richard McLaren is currently compiling his second report, which is due to be completed by the end of October.

"It's important to bear in mind that Professor McLaren's investigation is not based on Dr. Rodchenkov's allegations but rather on evidence that corroborates the allegations as first exposed via the New York Times," a WADA spokesperson told Insidethegames.

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