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New York Times completely wrong on Russia admitting doping conspiracy

New York Times article alleging Russian sports officials have admitted to “institutional conspiracy” to undertake doping is according to TASS based on distorted comments and is flatly contradicted by the public comments of Russian President Putin made just four days before.

Alexander Mercouris

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On Tuesday 27th December 2016 The New York Times published an article under the headline “Russians no longer dispute Olympic Doping Operation”.

The article alleged that a Russian sports official, Anna Antselovich, who is the acting Director General of RUSADA, Russia’s national anti-doping agency, had admitted to an “institutional conspiracy” to dope athletes, though she was reported to have denied that the country’s highest leaders were involved.

The key section in The New York Times article reads as follows

Over several days of interviews here with The New York Times, Russian officials said they no longer disputed a damning set of facts that detailed a doping program with few, if any, historical precedents.

“It was an institutional conspiracy,” Anna Antseliovich (sic), the acting director general of Russia’s national antidoping agency, said of years’ worth of cheating schemes, while emphasizing that the government’s top officials were not involved.

I was immediately suspicious when I read these words since they appeared to be in flat contradiction to things Russian President Putin had said about the doping scandal in his annual end-of-year press conference given just four days before on 23rd December 2016.

It turns out that I was right to be suspicious because RUSADA is now angrily complaining that The New York Times has twisted Antselovich’s words.  Here is a report of what RUSADA is saying provided by the Russian news agency TASS

In response to the publication in The New York Times, RUSADA states that the words of acting General Director Antselovich were distorted and taken out of the context.  During Antselovich’s talk with journalist Rebecca Ruiz, the acting general director made a remark that in his report of December 9, 2016 Richard McLaren had given up the phrase ‘state-sponsored doping system’ and used the words ‘institutional conspiracy,’ thus excluding the involvement of the country’s top leadership. Unfortunately, Rebecca Ruiz took these words out of the context, thus creating an impression that the RUSADA leadership admits to the institutional scheme of doping cover-up in Russia.”

In other words Antselovich pointed out to The New York Times that even McLaren has stopped talking about a ‘state-sponsored doping system’ but now talks only of an ‘institutional conspiracy’.  The New York Times twisted these words in order to claim that Antselovich had admitted to an ‘institutional conspiracy’, when she had done no such thing

It is a classic tabloid journalist’s trick, treating the denial of one thing as the admission of another.  I will here express my sorrow that a journalist of The New York Times, once a truly great newspaper, made use of it.

Before proceeding further I should say that in my opinion Antselovich is reading more into McLaren’s words than is there.  McLaren’s second report makes it quite clear that he believes that the doping conspiracy which he alleges was ‘state sponsored’.  I think the contrast Antselovich is making between McLaren’s use of the words ‘state-sponsored doping system’ and ‘institutional conspiracy’ is a false one, and is a product of wishful thinking.

Having said this, the key point to take away from RUSADA’s statement is that contrary to what The New York Times is saying, the Russians most certainly do continue to deny that there was anything which remotely resembled a state-sponsored doping system’, or an ‘institutional conspiracy’ to create such a doping system, in Russia.

What they do admit, as a careful reading of the comments of the other sports officials quoted in The New York Times article in fact shows, is that there was widespread doping in Russia.  However they place the blame for that firmly on Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, RUSADA’s former director.  They also say, and this too is evident from their comments quoted in The New York Times article, that if athletes in other countries had been subjected to the same sort of scrutiny as Russian athletes have been, the evidence of doping which would come to light would be at least as great.

I make this last point because The New York Times is reporting the comments of the sports officials, which are supposed to support the “admission” Antselovich is supposed to have made, but which she did not in fact make, in a way that does not make it clear that what the Russian sports officials were complaining about is the different treatment of their athletes.  Instead The New York Times reports these comments as a further admission of guilt, though one supposedly made without any trace of shame, and couched in words of “defiance”

But even as he and other officials signalled their acceptance of the fundamental findings of Mr. McLaren’s investigation, they were largely unconciliatory, suggesting that cheating to benefit Russia had served to offset what they perceived as preferential treatment for Western nations by global sports authorities.

(bold italics added)

The clearest statement of the Russian position on the doping scandal was the one made by Russian President Putin during his recent end-of-year press conference on 23rd December 2016.  I republish it here in full

Let me begin with doping as such and the problem of doping. First, Russia has never created – this is absolutely impossible – a state-run doping system and has never supported doping, and we will do our best to prevent this in the future. I wanted to repeat this as my first point.

Secondly, like any other country, we have a doping problem. We must admit this and by doing so, we must do everything in our power to prevent any doping. As such, we need to closely cooperate with the International Olympic Committee, WADA and other international organisations. We will do this. I hope that the ongoing changes, which are not only about personnel but are systemic and structural changes, will help us achieve these goals. In addition, the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor’s Office are investigating all cases of alleged doping, and they will bring these cases to their logical conclusion.

As for the so-called whistle-blowers who ran away from the country, grass up everyone or make up things, I would like to say a few words. I do not remember exactly the name of the person who fled Russia. He headed the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. But where did he work before that? In Canada. And what did he do after that? He came to Russia and brought all kinds of nasty stuff with him, while serving as a high-ranking official.

It is hard to imagine that he managed to cross the Canadian or US border carrying banned substances without being detected. You know what it means. Many of you have crossed the US and Canadian borders, there are very strict controls there.

He travelled back and forth many times to bring this nasty stuff here. It was his personal undertaking, he forced people to take these substances, and even came up with some sort of sanctions against those who refused to do so, for example, the swimmers.

When he was exposed, he escaped law enforcement, fled, and started slurring everyone in order to protect himself and secure a place in the sun in hope of a better life. At a certain point he will get what he wants. But after that, just as it happens to any rascal, they will drop him. Nobody needs people like this.

Why did he not fight here? This makes me think that somebody was behind him. They waited for a certain moment and started spreading these false stories. But this does not mean that Russia does not have a problem with doping. We do have this problem, and we must fight it. We must acknowledge this, and in doing so we must focus on athletes’ health.

As for WADA, I am not entitled to assess its performance. It is up to the International Olympic Committee to do it. However, as I have already said, operations of any anti-doping agency, including WADA, should be completely transparent, clear and verifiable, and we must be informed about the results of their work. What does this mean? This means that the international sports community should know who is to be tested, when and by what means, what the results are and what measures are being taken to punish those responsible, what is being done to prevent such incidents in the future. What’s going on? Are we talking about the defence industry? No. But in this case it is unclear why everything is so secretive? This should be an open process. They always ask us to be transparent. Transparency is very important in this area.

I cannot fail to agree with what a number of legendary athletes said about the recent decisions to cancel major competitions in Russia. They said that nobody knew anything. But if it was known before, why was it made public right now?

You know, politics are always involved in cases like this. Just as culture, sport should be free from politics, because sport and culture should both help bring people together instead of driving them apart.

(bold italics added)

I have highlighted certain parts of Putin’s comments because in them Putin has actually gone further than any other Russian official commenting on the scandal has so far done, and some of the things he says are very interesting, and should raise eyebrows.

Firstly, and pace the article in The New York Times, Putin categorically denies McLaren’s central allegation that there was a state sponsored doping system in Russia.

Secondly, he clearly says that there was a conspiracy to dope Russian athletes, but he accuses Dr. Rodchenkov (the person whose name Putin says he cannot remember) not the Russian authorities of being behind it.

On the facts I have seen that is certainly possible.  Here is what I said about it previously

For what it’s worth my opinion is that if there was a conspiracy the facts point more to Dr. Rodchenkov being its originator and mastermind than to anyone else in the Russian political or sports structure.  This is in part because some of the elements of the state sponsored conspiracy Dr. Rodchenkov alleges – like the alleged role of the FSB – seem to me to belong more to the world of spy fiction than to real life.  I doubt the FSB had any role in this affair, and Dr. Rodchenkov’s claim it did, and his equally unlikely claim to have been one of its agents, all but confirms that he is not telling the whole truth.

Thirdly, Putin clearly implies – though he does not quite say – that Dr. Rodchenkov was acting on instructions from someone in the West, and that his activities were being controlled from there, and were intended to create the very doping scandal Russian sports is now going through, presumably in order to damage Russia and to discredit Russian sport.  

That would make Dr. Rodchenkov not just a criminal but an agent provocateur.

I have seen no evidence that supports this claim.  Nor obviously do I know whether Putin has private information that supports it, or whether he simply spoke out of anger. 

What I do say, and what I have said many times before, is that the whole claim of a state-sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia seems to me to be heavily over-reliant on the largely unsupported evidence of Dr. Rodchenkov, who has an obvious motive to fabricate the claim

[McLaren’s] final report, like his first report, depends heavily – in my opinion excessively – on the evidence of a single witness: Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov. 

Personally I would be far more uneasy about accepting the truth of what Dr. Rodchenkov has to say than Professor McLaren appears to be, given Dr. Rodchenkov’s own admitted role in the doping scandal, and the fact that he is on the run from the Russian police. 

Both of these facts seem to me to give Dr. Rodchenkov an obvious motive to implicate the Russian authorities in his own admitted misdeeds, both in order to exculpate himself in the scandal, and to secure his claim for asylum in the West. 

That fact never seems to worry Professor McLaren or indeed anyone else in the West, where Dr. Rodchenkov is constantly hailed as a whistleblower rather than as a fugitive from justice, even though I would have thought the point was obvious.

On the subject of the Western authorities and media ignoring all the obvious doubts there should be concerning Dr. Rodchenkov, and accepting him uncritically as a heroic whistleblower, we have a further example in the article in The New York Times

Russian sports officials had vehemently denied the doping operation’s existence despite a detailed confession by the nation’s former antidoping lab chief, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, in a New York Times article last May that was subsequently confirmed by global antidoping regulators.

This is one of only two references to Dr. Rodchenkov by name in the entire New York Times article, though it beggars belief that the Russian officials it quotes, including Anna Antselovich, did not bring up his name frequently.  Suffice to say that Antselovich is now the head of Dr. Rodchenkov’s laboratory.

I do not know how this article in The New York Times came to be written.  Possibly Rebecca Ruiz, its author, misunderstood the points the Russian sports officials were making to her, though I find that difficult to believe.

However given that what the article claims the sports official told her is so flatly contradicted by what President Putin said in his end-of-year press conference just four days before the article was published, and which Putin said after Rebecca Ruiz had carried out her interviews, the decision of The New York Times’s editors to publish the article under the headline “Russians no longer dispute Olympic Doping Operation” without apparently making any modification to it in light of what Putin said seems to me little short of extraordinary.

Since the article is obviously wrong I wonder whether The New York Times – the ‘paper of record’ – will now admit its mistake, and retract and apologise for the article?  I have to say that I don’t expect it to.

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Tape recorded evidence of Clinton-Ukraine meddling in US election surfaces (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a look at new evidence to surface from Ukraine that exposes a plot by the US Embassy in Kiev and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to leak Paul Manafort’s corrupt dealings in the country, all for the benefit of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Via Zerohedge


Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has launched an investigation into the head of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly attempting to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump during the 2016 US election by releasing damaging information about a “black ledger” of illegal business dealings by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Hill’s John Solomon, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko

“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko said last week, according to The Hill

Lutsenko is probing a claim from a member of the Ukrainian parliament that the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, attempted to the benefit of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

A State Department spokesman told Hill.TV that officials aware of news reports regarding Sytnyk. –The Hill

“According to the member of parliament of Ukraine, he got the court decision that the NABU official conducted an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” said Lutsenko, speaking with The Hill’s John Solomon about the anti-corruption bureau chief, Artem Sytnyk.

“It means that we think Mr. Sytnyk, the NABU director, officially talked about criminal investigation with Mr. [Paul] Manafort, and at the same time, Mr. Sytnyk stressed that in such a way, he wanted to assist the campaign of Ms. Clinton,” Lutsenko continued.

Solomon asked Lutsenko about reports that a member of Ukraine’s parliament obtained a tape of the current head of the NABU saying that he was attempting to help Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, as well as connections that helped release the black-ledger files that exposed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort‘s wrongdoing in Ukraine.

“This member of parliament even attached the audio tape where several men, one of which had a voice similar to the voice of Mr. Sytnyk, discussed the matter.” –The Hill

What The Hill doesn’t mention is that Sytnyk released Manafort’s Black Book with Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko – discussed in great length by former Breitbart investigator Lee Stranahan, who has been closely monitoring this case.

Serhiy Leshchenko

T]he main spokesman for these accusations was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian politician and journalist who works closely with both top Hillary Clinton donors George Soros and Victor Pinchuk, as well as to the US Embassy in Kyiv.

James Comey should be asked about this source that Leshchenko would not identify. Was the source someone connected to US government, either the State Department or the Department of Justice?

The New York Times should also explain why they didn’t mention that Leshchenko had direct connections to two of Hillary Clinton biggest financial backers. Victor Pinchuk, the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation at a staggering $8.6 million also happened to have paid for Leshchenko’s expenses to go to international conferences. George Soros, whose also founded the International Renaissance Foundationthat worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s State Department in Ukraine, also contributed at least $8 million to Hillary affiliated super PACs in the 2016 campaign cycle. –Lee Stranahan via Medium

Meanwhile, according to former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, Leshchenko was a source for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.

“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation. –Daily Caller

Also absent from The Hill report is the fact that Leshchenko was convicted in December by a Kiev court of interfering in the 2016 US election.

A Kyiv court said that a Ukrainian lawmaker and a top anticorruption official’s decision in 2016 to publish documents linked to President Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman amounted to interference in the U.S. presidential election.

The December 11 finding came in response to a complaint filed by another Ukrainian lawmaker, who alleged that Serhiy Leshchenko and Artem Sytnyk illegally released the documents in August 2016, showing payments by a Ukrainian political party to Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The documents, excerpts from a secret ledger of payments by the Party of Regions, led to Manafort being fired by Trump’s election campaign.

The Kyiv court said that the documents published by Leshchenko and Sytnyk were part of an ongoing pretrial investigation in Ukraine into the operations of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. The party’s head had been President Viktor Yanukovych until he fled the country amid mass protests two years earlier.

-RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty (funded by the US govt.).

So while Lutsenko – Solomon’s guest and Ukrainian Prosecutor is currently going after Artem Sytnyk, it should be noted that Leshchenko was already found to have meddled in the 2016 US election.

Watch:

Meanwhile, you can also check out Stranahan’s take on Leshchenko being left out of the loop.

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‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.

RT

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Via RT


Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

The Duran

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Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-arms/germany-not-satisfied-with-readiness-of-submarines-some-aircraft-idUSKBN1QS1G7) the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

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