The extraordinary autobiography of the doping mastermind who helped Russia cheat their way to Olympic glory before fleeing Moscow in fear of his life has won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.
Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, whose tell-all book, The Rodchenkov Affair: How I Brought Down Putin’s Secret Doping Empire, was unable to collect the £30,000 first prize as he is still in a witness protection scheme in the US.
Alyson Rudd, the chair of the judging panel, said: “The Rodchenkov Affair was praised for its searing honesty and bravery as Grigory Rodchenkov explains in gripping detail how he helped ensure Russian athletes who cheated through doping, escape detection.
“He is a whistleblower like few others, and he remains a ‘ghost’ living in America, separated from his family, the price he pays for wanting ‘to be on the side of truth’.”
The book centres on how he helped Russian athletes cheat by inventing a steroid cocktail optimised to avoid detection while working as the head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory. The steroids were dissolved in alcohol (Chivas whisky for the men and Vermouth for the women), swished in the mouth and then spat out. The cocktail had a name, too: “Duchess” after a traditional Russian drink.
Rodchenkov also revealed how at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi clean urine samples were swapped with tainted ones to allow Russian athletes to pass doping tests.
He was forced to flee his home in 2015 when the World Anti-Doping Agency suspended Russia under accusations of state-sponsored doping during the 2012 London Olympics and 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Drummond Moir, the editor of The Rodchenkov Affair, said: “We’re thrilled that this unique book has received such a prestigious award. He’s created a breathtakingly candid memoir, one that takes the reader on a journey through a rigged system of flawed individuals, brazen deceit and impossible moral choices, where what begins as a sporting controversy escalates into a geopolitical earthquake.”