Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov has been identified as the mastermind behind the systematic and state-sponsored doping program in Russia according to a recent report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Of course, WADA neglected to appreciate the brilliant albeit corrupt strategy spearheaded by Rodchenkov to restore Russian athletic prominence on the world stage.
Dr. Rodchenkov was the former director of the WADA-accredited Moscow Anti-Doping Centre from 2005 to around 2015. He was also recognized as one of the world’s top anti-doping experts in anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). He has a doctoral degree in analytical chemistry and has published numerous scientific papers in well-respected, peer-reviewed journals that have greatly advanced the doping detection technology used by WADA.
Rodchenkov used his position as the Moscow Anti-Doping Director as a cover for his real job – Rodchenkov was the brains behind the top secret Russian program which administered anabolic steroids to elite athletes who competed in international competitions. Rodchenkov used his expertise to help Russian athletes use steroids while avoiding detection.
But it wasn’t enough to find a way for Russian athletes to use steroids without getting caught. Rodchenkov knew that steroid use was widespread by athletes in many other countries. Rodchenkov knew the limitations of anti-doping detection technology. He knew that many athletes around the world were using steroids and PEDs and getting away with it. So, Rodchenkov created a two-pronged strategy in which he would bust athletes from other countries who were using steroids while promoting undetectable means of using steroids by Russian athletes.
It was common knowledge among many athletes and support personnel around the world that certain oral steroids with a short half-live could still be used and athletes would still pass the anti-doping test as clean. Specifically, the use of stanozolol (Winstrol) and chlorodehydromethyltestosterone (Oral Turinabol) was used by hundreds of athletes without fear of getting caught.
So, Rodchenkov developed a novel anti-doping detection test that increased the detection window for Winstrol and Oral Turinabol to well over six months. Previously, the detection window for these steroids was only a matter of days.
In 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) utilized Rodchenkov’s new Winstrol/Oral Turinabol detection test during its massive retesting program involving 1000 stored samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics. The IOC retroactively busted almost 100 athletes who were using PEDs. Most of them were using Winstrol and/or Oral Turinabol.
In the last few years, athletes who relied on Winstrol and Oral Turinabol had to give up these steroids given WADA’s adoption of Rodchenkov’s new test. Now that Rodchenkov’s had eliminated a popular undetectable means of steroid doping used by the competition in the first part of his brilliant Russian doping strategy, he just had to come up with some anabolic steroids that Russian athletes could use while avoiding detection.
The second-prong of Rodchenkov’s doping strategy involved the use of a top secret Russian steroid stack called the “Duchess cocktail” which included three popular steroids that have been around for decades – trenbolone, methenolone (Primobolan) and oxandrolone (Anavar). WADA-accredited laboratories already had a testing method to detect these steroids. However, Rodchenkov discovered a way that athletes could use these three steroids and still test clean.
The secret involved blending a specific ratio of methenolone, trenbolone and oxandrolone with specific alcoholic beverages in a certain ratio. Every milligram of the steroids was mixed with one milliliter of either Chivas Scotch Whiskey (for men) or Martini Italian vermouth (for women).
The “Duchess cocktail” permitted the microdosing of the three steroids in a sublingual delivery method that allowed for quick absorption and a shortened window of detection. The “Duchess cocktail” became the steroids of choice used by Russian athletes during the 2012 London Summer Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
The goal of Rodchenkov’s strategy was to stop other athletes from using Winstrol and Oral Turinabol while allowing Russian athletes to get away with using Trenbolone, Primobolan and Anavar. The latest WADA report suggests that Rodchenkov helped as many as 1,000 Russian athletes get away with doping. Hundreds of those athletes were able to get away with the use of the “Duchess steroid cocktail” while avoiding detection.
Rodchenkov’s strategy was bold and creative. Eventually, he got caught. And the names of the Russian athletes who got away with using steroids may finally come to light. Yet, the ultimate irony in the Russian doping scandal is that Rodchenkov’s contributions to the anti-doping detection technology are the reasons for the huge success of the IOC retesting program of stored samples from 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.