Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian whistleblower at the center of that country’s doping scandal, is suing Mikhail Prokhorov, claiming an earlier libel suit the Nets owner filed against three banned Russian athletes is nothing more than attempt to find out where he’s hiding.
Prokhorov, who headed the Russian biathlon union before the Sochi Olynpics is financing the suit by three Russian biathletes who blame their lifetime ban from the sport on Rodchenkov.
Rodchenkov is in the U.S. witness protection program awaiting a decision on his application for political asylum. He claims in the suit that the biathletes and Prokhorov are using the suit to learn his location.
“Today’s legal action by Dr. Rodchenkov provides ample testament to the baseless nature of this Prokhorov-financed claim, which I believe was intended for the single purpose of attempting to locate Dr. Rodchenkov,” said Jim Walden, a lawyer for Rodchenkov, in describing the suit.
“Today we are pleased to say that the hunted becomes the hunter,” said Walden. He said Rodchenkov’s legal team had also filed “a motion to dismiss that frivolous lawsuit,” a reference to the Prokhorov-financed libel suit.
“We are taking fight to them by filing our own countersuit against the athletes and the Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov and a number of other unnamed financiers,” Walden told reporters.
Through his spokesperson, Prokhorov denied the claims.
”We categorically deny the accusations in this suit, but instead of trading in rumors and baseless accusations by the media, we will await our fair hearing in the court of law where facts and evidence will take their rightful place as he only means of determining the truth,” Prokhorov’s spokesperson told the media.
Rodchenkov served as the key witness for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as the organization investigated what it saw as a systematic effort by Russia to help its athletes with performance-enhancing drugs at Sochi. Specifically, Russian athletes’ tainted urine samples were substituted with clean ones. Russia has been sanctioned by various international athletic association, and banned from the recently completed Olympics in South Korea.
Russia has denied any systematic effort and wants Rodchenkov extradited to his homeland ... despite the fact that the U.S. and Russia do not have an extradition treaty. Rodchenkov has said he fears for his life.
Those close to Prokhorov say his decision to finance the suit was based not on an attempt to learn Rodchenkov’s whereabouts, but out of loyalty of the three biathletes.
Neither the Nets nor the NBA are involved in either Prokhorov-financed suit or the libel action filed by Rodchenkov, but it’s hard to imagine Adam Silver is happy with the news.
Prokhorov, with an estimated $11 billion net worth, recently agreed to see 49 percent of the Nets to Joe Tsai, who was also granted an option to purchase a controlling interest in 2021.
- Russian Doping Whistleblower Counter-Sues Athletes, Tycoon Prokhorov - Reuters
- Doping Whistleblower Sues Russian Olympians and Their Oligarch Backer, an N.B.A. Owner - Rebecca R. Ruiz - New York Times
- Nets owner being sued by Russian Olympics whistleblower - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov countersues 3 athletes - Daniel Arkin with Robert Windrem
- Russian doping whistleblower countersues Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, three Olympic biathletes - Rachel Axon - USA Today
- Whistleblower Rodchenkov seeks dismissal of libel lawsuit - AP