Anniversary of Olympics-80: what were the "cleanest" Moscow Games

Anniversary of Olympics-80: what were the "cleanest" Moscow Games

Anniversary of Olympics-80: what were the "cleanest" Moscow Games

20 July 2020, 11:00
Doping control at the Olympic Games was first held in 1968 in Mexico. Since then and until now, positive doping tests have been found at every Olympiad, except for the 1980 Olympics, which was held in Moscow.

Athletes and a former KGB officer told reporters of the media project “Nastoyashee vremya” (Present time) about the backstage of the Olympics-80.

These days, 40 years ago, the last preparations for the Summer Olympic Games in Moscow ended. The competition took place from July 19 to August 3, 1980 and ended with the triumph of the Soviet team. The first place in the team standings to the Soviet Union was ensured by a result of 195 medals, 80 of which were gold.

Olympics-80 in Moscow was called the "cleanest": doping was not found on a single athlete. But four decades later, it became known that doping tests replaced many athletes. The state security organs were directly related to this.

The Soviet Union prepared for the 1980 Moscow Olympics not only in sports committees, but also in the Lubyanka.

Three years before the Olympics, in 1977, 11 department 5 of the KGB Department was created here.

Formally, the task of the department was to carry out measures to disrupt the subversive actions of the enemy and hostile elements during the preparation and conduct of the Olympiad.

But in fact, the employees of the department worked, including in the Moscow anti-doping laboratory.

It received accreditation of the Olympic Committee just two weeks before the competition, which ended in the triumph of the Soviet team: 195 medals, 80 of which were gold and, as a result, first place in the team event.


“They replaced the urine with all the polls among all athletes, not just ours”, - said Konstantin Volkov, who won silver at the 80th Olympics in the pole vault. He now lives abroad.

“There was doping control. There were our employees, with epaulets, apparently. Why do I say this: when I came to hand over the urine, I hand over the jar, and he tells me - we throw it all away, here is your urine, and got it from somewhere out of a sock, and hand over this one. I say, but I have nothing, I'm not scared, but he is me - and we don't need accidents, go, hand over this one. I say: does it all? He says, "Of course." Do my rivals have? He says, yes, everyone has the same thing, without exception, no one will have anything here”, - Konstantin Volkov told “Nastoyashee vremya” (Present time).


Vladimir Popov, a former KGB lieutenant colonel, left Russia for Canada in the early 1990s.

The correspondent of "Present" noted that after the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal, he is afraid to speak in Russia even with reporters. And therefore, about how his colleagues at the Moscow Olympics were engaged in the substitution of doping samples, Popov told the Prague edition of the TV channel.

“I had completely different tasks during the Moscow Olympiad. I have worked with sports journalists. And two of my colleagues, Boris Pakin and Boris Vorobyov, were accredited directly at the doping center of the 1980 Olympics. They filled the tanks, which were supposedly athletes. Naturally, they had no doping and the samples were clean. This way. And it changed purely mechanically. For example, if this sample was actually taken from the athletes in order to ensure that nothing would be there, the samples were simply replaced with obviously pure samples, ”said Vladimir Popov.

“Before replacing the sample at night, the athlete’s pure urine was removed from the urine bank of the FSB control center. Then the samples were in the working room, where they were thawed, after which the specific gravity of the samples was adjusted and a substitution was carried out. At night, samples were transferred through openings described as a “mouse hole” from a guarded area to an adjacent workroom.

An FSB officer picked up the B sample bottles and returned them open, without caps. "Dirty" urine from samples "A" and "B" was disposed of, and replaced by the athlete's own, "clean" urine, the bottles were passed back through the "mouse hole"", - according to the correspondent of “Nastoyashee vremya” (Present time), this quote is not about the Moscow Olympics 1980 year. This is a description of how to substitute doping samples at the triumphant - already for Russia - Olympic Games in Sochi, held 34 years after the Games in Moscow.

The correspondent of “Nastoyashee vremya” (Present time) Ivan Grebenyuk asked the former KGB lieutenant colonel Vladimir Popov, does the description from McLaren's reports look like what was happening in Moscow-80?

“This is a copy, so to speak, a repetition, a remake, shall we say, of what was in the 80th year. It’s just the experience of those years was used at the Sochi Olympics, ”answered Popov.

“At the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, for the first time, a sample swapping mechanism for Russian athletes was used, which guaranteed the absence of errors. A protected athlete, who with a high degree of probability could have won a medal, could freely take doping.

Such athletes were doping before and probably during the Olympic Games, because they could count on the “dirty” samples to be replaced in the Sochi laboratory".

The report on the results of the Sochi Olympics indicated that the Minister of Sports of Russia Vitaly Mutko and his deputy Yury Nagorny knew about the substitution of doping tests.

Former KGB lieutenant colonel Vladimir Popov in an interview for “Nastoyashee vremya” (Present time) recalls that during the Moscow Games in the USSR there was no Ministry of Sports, but there was a State Committee.

“A similar program was adopted at the level of the leaders of the USSR State Sports Committee. And it worked, of course, not for all athletes. And for those athletes, members of the national team in various sports, who, according to the coach, represented the greatest prospect that they can achieve high results, win at major international competitions.

For such athletes, this special program was adopted. And under the strict control of the medical and biological support department, which was in the structure of the USSR State Committee for Sports, and the specific doctor of the national team of a particular sport, this program was implemented”, - Popov said.

Konstantin Volkov in 1980 was just a contender for Olympic gold. Six months before the Games in Moscow, Volkov won gold in the European Championship.

“…They offered anabolic steroids. They called me with a trainer, with my father, they said, that’s why it is necessary to carry out a program of special preparations and so on in order to win a gold medal. It was. But we refused. Because, firstly, we did not know how to work with a pole (after that), because there was a certain technique and it was not known how this would affect your results.

We refused. We were told well, under your responsibility - if there is a failure, then you will be responsible for your actions. Therefore, the team's doctors and the head coach were all in the know. The program was state-owned”, - Volkov said.

Doping control at the Olympic Games was first held in 1968 in Mexico. From then until now, positive doping tests have been found at every Olympiad, except for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.

Anabolic steroids were banned by the Olympic Committee in 1975, a year later at the Olympics in Montreal 12 athletes were disqualified for anabolics at once, but four years later at the Olympics in Moscow there was not a single doping disqualification.

“Well, obviously, to athletes from other countries, the management explained that there would be a fairly thorough check, therefore, not a single case was found. It just didn't happen, ”says Viktor Krovopuskov, a four-time Olympic champion in fencing, who won two gold medals just in 1980 in Moscow.

But in the Soviet national team, athletes might not have known what kind of pills they were given, says former KGB Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Popov.

“The doctor of the national ice hockey team Boris Sapronenkov told the athletes that they were “vitamins”. I witnessed this, while I was here in Canada, back in Soviet times, as a member of the national team, when there were Stanley Cup games. They believed that these were "vitamins". At that time, these were anabolic steroids.

And I think most of the athletes didn't really know what they were using. It was simply explained to them that this was the necessary pharmacological support”, - noted Vladimir Popov.

Israil Arsamakov is another athlete from the 1980s who won gold in Seoul in 1988, and in the 1990s was the head of the Russian Weightlifting Federation. He says that doping in the Soviet team was so widespread that athletes even managed to trade it.

“In our country, methandrostenolol price was 2 rubles 2 kopecks, 100 tablets, and there it cost at least 10-15 dollars. In 1984, after this "Friendship-84", Canada hosted the World Heavyweight Championship. And our team went there. Now this is simply not remembered for some reason, but there was also a scandal. There were ours Kurlovich, Taranenko, Pisarenko...

And they, all of them, had these anabolics, they took it for sale, but they slammed them at the border. And there was a disqualification. And the scandal was powerful. It was all there. All this was known. Because people had no money at that times...”, - said Arsamakov.

“But what is the question? As if we do not understand, we say - the Americans "eat", the Australians... Yes, they do. But when they are caught, this is not their state situation. And here it is exactly like... This all happens at the highest level, understand? You come to the national team, and everything is already ready there”, - said Israil Arsamakov.

“But this applies not only to Soviet athletes, not only to Russian, because doping, unfortunately, is quite widely used in sports. But as for the Soviet Union and present-day Russia, it was a state program, ”said former KGB officer Vladimir Popov.

Due to the doping scandals of recent years, Russian athletes are not allowed to compete even under a neutral flag.

“There is no way to speak in any capacity now. Not for Russia, not in a neutral capacity at International competitions. Because this is the attitude ... So our athletics federation works ... It was suspended, ”said Konstantin Volkov.

Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, created just in time for the 1980 Olympics, spoke about the existence of a state doping program in modern Russia in 2016.

That Olympiad will remain the cleanest in history. Because after 40 years, only those who have already left Russia speak about doping at those Games, and it’s already impossible to verify the doping tests of athletes from that Olympiad.

Journalists of the “Nastoyashee vremya” (Present time) sent requests to comment on the words of Vladimir Popov and Konstantin Volkov to the Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Sports of Russia. The Olympic Committee refused to comment on them, and at the time of editing the material, they had not responded to the request at the Ministry of Sports.

You can watch the full video here.

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