Mail on Sunday unleashes single third-hand quote to smear entire nation of footballers
This time it rehashes second-hand evidence that Moscow was intending to drug its footballers. The newspaper continues to pioneer its own brand of highly efficient journalism, which allows for provocative and defamatory accusations to be made, without the need for an actual source or evidence.
The claims, nonchalantly tossed into the public domain, are that “Russia doped all its international football teams,” and that the host country “planned to swap urine samples at the 2018 World Cup so that its footballers could take drugs with impunity.”
Apparently, those allegations come from everyone’s favorite mustachioed Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov. Although not exactly from him, because he’s currently hidden away by the US witness protection program, presumably sharing pasta recipes with Italian Americans.
The claims in the Mail actually come from Bryan Fogel, who directed the Netflix documentary ‘Icarus,’ which first thrust Rodchenkov into the public domain. For the record, the documentary starts with Fogel trying to dope himself, and Rodchenkov helping him out. So, these are a couple of stand-up guys. It ends with Rodchenkov at the center of widespread allegations against Russia’s Olympic athletes.
The Daily Mail says he has already “provided damning evidence against Russian sportsmen and women.” So far, he’s not provided the same kind of evidence against athletes and sports people from other nations. You have to say that is slightly suspicious, considering the Netflix documentary that put him in the spotlight was centered around him being more than happy to help a US-based cyclist carry out a program of doping on himself.
Rodchenkov doesn’t seem to be a man who confines himself to certain nationalities.
With these allegations, I’m going to have to deal with the angry elephant lurking in the corner of the room (apologies to my Russian colleagues).
With all due respect to Russia’s national football team, if they’re on drugs, what the hell are all the other teams snorting. Russia is currently ranked 64th in the world rankings, below the likes of Panama, Burkina Faso, and Saudi Arabia – who they play in the first game of the World Cup.
If the Russian team has been boosting its performance, the likes of Brazil, Germany and Spain must have been raiding Popeye’s spinach cabinet for years.
Fogel is quoted as saying: “What I know from Grigory is that the order from Mutko was: ‘Football must be clean.’” I mean, isn’t that a good thing?
‘Mutko’ refers to Vitaly Mutko, the former head of sport for the Russian government. I may be old fashioned, but I think a government minister demanding a sport be clean of drugs is a positive thing.
Fogel says: “What that meant was that there should never be positives reported in football, even though all the footballers were on the state-sponsored doping program.”
That is the entire quote used by the Mail on Sunday to smear an entire nation of footballers. A man, interpreting a quote from another source, who is in protective custody.
Two journalists put their name to this expose, based on one third-hand quote (from a man with a less-than-spotless dedication to the truth). If I were their boss, I would be looking into what I could do to improve their performance.
Perhaps the Mail could ask why Rodchenkov has still not been openly cross-examined about his activities. Or why the documentary didn’t discuss allegations of other international, non-Russian clients. Or perhaps even tell people that FIFA carried out a full investigation into the Russian football team in 2014, and not a single player tested positive.
Don’t hold your breath. Imagine how many Mail journalists it would take to write those stories!