There are still astonishing deep links at the heart of the Olympic movement, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the secret services of the Soviet Union (KGB) and Russia (FSB). Even senior IOC members have told me repeatedly: the answers to many thrilling Olympic questions will be found in the Lubyanka archives. Additionally my Russian friends are telling me: it is all in the KGB files.
Will we ever get to know?
Recently we heard a lot about the major role of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in the state-orchestrated doping scheme. According to Richard McLaren’s stunning report, the FSB agents responsible for the state-sponsored doping conspiracy were called „the magicians“.
The IP investigation has identified a role played by FSB Blokhin and two other unidentified persons from the FSB in the operations of both the Moscow and the Sochi laboratories. The FSB role is not interference and control, like that of the Deputy Minister of Sport, but assistance in arranging and operating the State sponsored system of sample swapping that occurred in connection with: the 2013 University Games and IAAF Championships, the Sochi laboratory and in the lead up to the WADA seizure of samples in December 2014.“
There have been more (and there are more) magicians.
Vladimir Putin is the most famous (former) KGB agent in the world and the (former) head of the KGB’s successor, FSB (1998-1999). Mr Putin was rightly described as the most powerful man in the Olympic world over the last decade. This has probably changed but he is still a major factor in the Olympic business. On Friday, Mr Putin announced a „proposal to the Russian Olympic Committee“ …
… on establishing an independent – this is very important – public commission that would include both Russian and foreign experts in medicine and law, as well as respected public and sports activists and experts. The commission’s key task would be to quickly develop a national anti-doping plan that involves strict oversight of its implementation.“
As we all know and according to the Olympic Charter, which is absolutely respected in Russia, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is totally independent from politics. The ROC will now have a critical look at Mr Putin’s proposal and will, probably, take up the idea (I would never wish to say ‚the order‘, the ‚ukase‘, the ‚instruction‘, the ‚decree‘).
Mr Putin – Honorary President of International Judo Federation (IJF); Honorary President of the European Judo Union (EJU); Honorary President of the International Federation of Sambo (FIAS), a sport developed in the Red Army and the KGB in the Soviet Union; holder of the black belt in karate; holder of the 8th dan of judo; Master of Sports in judo; honorary doctorate in judo from Yong In university; and Master of Sports in Sambo (among other titles) – made a second, for want of a better word, recommendation:
The question is of course who would be at the head of the commission. Clearly, the answer is a person with an absolutely impeccable reputation, somebody who has credibility and the respect of the Olympic family. We have a person like this in our country. It is Vitaly Smirnov, Russia’s representative in the International Olympic Committee, a member since 1971. I think we should ask him to head up the commission. I hope that he will accept as a person who has devoted so many years to the Olympic movement and the development of sports in our country.“
Well now …
A person with an absolutely impeccable reputation, somebody who has credibility and the respect of the Olympic family.“
The 81 years old Vitaly Smirnov, IOC member from 1971-2015, is one of the architects of the Soviet sports system. He is now an honorary member of the IOC. Cynics would also mention that dear Mr Smirnov was involved in strange Olympic bids in the 1990s (St. Petersburg and Sochi in early stages) which were connected to allegations of money laundering and other olympic deals (ask André Guelfi). Mr Smirnov was involved in a costly and dubious failed Olympic Lottery scheme that was the subject of ligitation in Russia and Switzerland. Mr Smirnov and members of his family have been involved in several olympic schemes of alleged bribery (Atlanta 1996, Salt Lake City 2002) and dubious businesses in Switzerland connected to the Lausanne-based White Flag Foundation. And that’s just a brief summary. See, for example, the second Pound report (Ad hoc Commission, Salt Lake City investigation) published in March 1999:
Mr Smirnov, a long time IOC Vice President and IOC Doyen, was given a „serious warning“ by the IOC.
„A person with an absolutely impeccable reputation, somebody who has credibility and the respect of the Olympic family.“
Let’s have a look at the secret Olympic world.
According to a Russian historian, Mr Smirnov was also a KGB agent. The historian, Yuri Felshtinsky, wrote in his book „The KGB plays Chess“, published in 2009:
Vitaly Smirnov, the Vice President of the International Olympic Committee and head of the NOC of the USSR, was recruited in 1978 by the deputy head of the Fifth Directorate of the KGB, Major General Ivan Abbramov.“
That makes sense.
So, what’s going to happen now in Russia, in July 2016 in the heat of the Olympic crisis?
Well, one could conclude: a former KGB agent and head of FSB „suggests“ that another former KGB agent and architect of the Soviet sports system acts as chair of an „independent commission“ with the task to develop a national anti-doping plan.