Every Swim Coach Should Watch This Show



Yuliya and Vitaliy are meantime no longer the only ones who want to talk to me. I get contacts to several people from the Russian sports system. Is this system as foul as they suggest in their mails? In the search for answers I fly across Russia, want to meet the athletes and coaches. First, it takes me from Moscow 1000 miles south to Krasnodar.

If these people here talk openly? And why? Some are banned for doping, feel cheated, others simply want to put an end to the years of lies, they say. Some have already spoken publicly, many like Evgenia Pecherina not yet.


Reporter: “What is your guess, what do you think: how many athletes from the national team in Russia are doping?”


Evgenia Pecherina, discus thrower: “Most of them. The greater part. 99%. And you get absolutely anything. Everything the athlete wants. And the shorter the period it can be detected, the more expensive the product.”


I travel on to Samara – nearly 1,000 miles to the North-East, closed to foreigners in the Soviet age: strictly screened armaments were produced here in those days. My translator is always at the meeting. Not everyone I meet wants to speak openly. There is talk of a doping distribution scheme.


Coach squad athletes (hidden): “That is an internal schema that has established itself over the years. If you would like to improve a result, you call a number and introduces yourself. In this way, you can get the necessary preparations. But this number – not everyone is given it, only those people who have been checked. If the leadership thus does not agree with it, then it will never even come to a deal.”


Oleg Popov, coach throwing events: “The athlete has no choice. Either you prepare yourself in national team with banned substances, in order to win medals which are also accredited to the Federation – the head coach, the Ministry of Sport, the Federation President, the entire Russian Athletics Federation. And, if you are unable to agree with this scheme, which they offer you, then things can move very quickly and you’re out.”


And then he names a name, that I don’t know yet but I will hear very often.


Oleg Popov, coach throwing events: “We have someone there in Moscow: Portugalov – he looks after that.”


Back in Berlin. I look at the records again very carefully, all the people I’ve talked to have given an affidavit on their statements. And I want to know: who is this Portugalov, about whom so many people spoke? Full name: Sergey Nikolaiewich Portugalov. As recently as this year he holds a seminar and warns of the dangers of doping in the children’s and youth sports. I see that, with the support of the Athletics World Federation, he should advice an anti-doping task force in Russia. He is considered a leading expert in the anti-doping fight. There is a video of him on the Internet.


A PR video for a seminar on “Pharmacological support” for athletes and coaches.


Sergey Portugalov: “We have looked at various aspects of the effect of medicinal substances or dietary supplements, which have an effect on the muscles.”


Several international sports organizations rely on his advice. Athletes and coaches tell us: Sergey Portugalov is the central figure in the Olympic preparation of Russian athletes. What not everyone knows: he did so already in the Soviet era. In the intensive doping phase in the 70’s and 80’s. Until today.


Coach squad athletes (hidden): “He administers it personally himself and he even injects it himself. People turn to him. To Portugal. That’s his nickname. They don’t call him Portugalov, they say Portugal to him. ‘I went to Portugal, got myself this or that.’ That’s how the athletes talk.”


These are serious accusations. And I receive evidence. One is from the documents of Yuliya. An email to her. In it is clear evidence of the supply of doping. By Sergey Portugalov.

“Your testosterone level is low. We will remedy that in the preparation week.”

Or on the occasion of a training camp he writes:

“Start with your course afterwards.”

Course – the usual code for a doping cycle. And then an email from another world-class athlete who followed Portugalov’s instructions. Portugalov recommends him:

“Start with EPO.”

And with:


That is a banned growth hormone. And:

“Two ampoules of testosterone next week.”


Yulya Stepanova: “I had come to see him in the office, it was the first time that I’d been there. It was crazy for me, that everything went the way it did. I thought that it would have been different. He personally gave me the drugs. Most of them were banned. Others weren’t. He told me that the whole world prepared itself like that. I had really scared eyes at that moment. But he told me: don’t look at me like that. You don’t need to be afraid. If you listen to me, everything will be OK. He gave me some Oxandrolone, those are pills. That was a white container, about this big, on it was the name Oxandrolone.

And when you then took first place in the competition for which he had prepared you, then it was fifty thousand rubles, for second place thirty thousand, for the third place twenty thousand. That means that I had to pay him for the winning medal. In addition there was about five percent of the money I won in the season, commercial starts and others. And then the supplements, which he sold to me.”

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