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'Serious threat' to Russian whistleblower's life

From BBC - January 13, 2018

The whistleblower whose evidence led to Russia's ban from next month's Winter Olympics is preparing to testify against those involved - even though his life is under "serious threat", his lawyer says.

Former Russian anti-doping official Grigory Rodchenkov fled to the United States after his allegations about a state-sponsored doping programme.

Russia was banned from the Games after Rodchenkov's claims were investigated - though athletes who can prove they are clean can compete as neutrals.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has handed life bans to 43 athletes involved in the doping programme - though 42 of those have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

Their cases will be looked at in the coming weeks and Rodchenkov's lawyer, Jim Walden, says his client will likely give evidence at the hearings.

Walden told BBC Radio 5 live that the threat to Dr Rodchenkov - who was director of Russia's anti-doping laboratory during Sochi 2014 - from Russian retaliation needs to be taken "very seriously".

He added: "We know that Dr Rodchenkov is at the top of the Russian hate list. We know that at least one official has called for Dr Rodchenkov's execution."

But Rodchenkov is still preparing to at testify at the Cas hearings of the athletes and that of Russia's Deputy Prime Minister and former sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who is also banned for his alleged part in the doping scandal.

"He's very focused on what he needs to do in the next several weeks," Walden said.

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