William Hill’s 2020 SBOTY Award Won By Russian Doping Whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov

The Rodchenkov Affair by whistleblower and former head of RUSADA Grigory Rodchenkov won the 2020 William Hill’s Sports Book of the Year award on Thursday.

Four-Year Ban for Russian Athletes

Grigory Rodchenkov, the key whistleblower in Russia’s 2015 doping scandal, won Thursday the William Hill’s Sports Book of the Year award for his account of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s (RUSADA) doping conspiration.

Dubbed the “biggest scandal in world sports history” by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the doping scandal began to unfold in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The event led to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banning Russian athletes for 4 years. Russia was denied participation in the 2022 FIFA Qatar World Cup and the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games

Mr. Rodchenkov became a whistleblower by providing a statement on his implication in the affair in Icarus, an Academy Award-winning documentary from 2017.

State-Sponsored Doping Scandal

In The Rodchenkov Affair: How I Brought Down Putin’s Secret Doping Empire, the former head of RUSADA exposes the gears of the state-sponsored doping program which helped athletes escape detection.

“The Rodchenkov Affair was praised for its searing honesty and bravery,” the chair of the judging panel, Alyson Rudd, said in a statement. The author currently is in a witness protection program in the United States, “the price he pays for wanting ‘to be on the side of truth'”, Ms. Rudd said.

The “breathtakingly candid memoir” depicts the events leading to “a sporting controversy [which] escalates into a geopolitical earthquake,” publisher Penguin Random House declared. “It feels fitting that The Rodchenkov Affair – forged in clandestine circumstances, by an author in total seclusion, published during a year of lockdowns – is now finally getting the attention it deserves.”

Beating the four other nominated authors for William Hill’s 32nd prestigious award, M. Rodchenkov will receive £30,000 and a leather-bound copy of the book.

WADA and IOC Oppose Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act

The US Senate passed on November 16 the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act which gives legislators the ability to issue fines of up to $1 million and decade-long prison sentences for conspirators involved in doping activities at competitions involving US athletes, sponsors, and broadcasters.

WADA opposed the legislation last month, citing that no other nation that the US has jurisdiction in those events and that it could jeopardize international cooperation. The IOC also disapproved of the act, questioning the exclusion of US professional and college athletes from the new measures.

However, the anti-doping bill passed into law and was applauded by Jim Walden, Mr. Rodchenkov’s lawyer, who said it will give “the Department of Justice a powerful and unique set of tools to eradicate doping fraud and related criminal activities from international competitions”.

“Now it falls to the Department of Justice to develop a robust program, cooperating with the US Anti-Doping Agency and international law enforcement partners, to bring the guilty to justice and create zero tolerance for doping in sports,” Mr. Walden said.

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