The man who blew the lid on Russias doping scandal claims Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov dished out hush money to an Olympic athlete after she stumbled upon the scheme and threatened to go public.
Whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov alleged in sworn testimony that the Russian billionaire had shelled out millions of rubles to keep biathlete Irina Starykh quiet after she tested positive for steroids, according to the Wall Street Journal.
He testified that one of Russias doping doctors, Irina Rodionova, told him about the exchange after being informed by Starykh.
The Olympic hopeful had been caught using steroids in Austria ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and asked Rodchenkov for help discrediting the analysis, but he was unable to do so, Rodchenkov said.
Rodchenkov claimed that Starykh, upset over not competing, was planning on revealing her doping regimen to Olympic officials when Prokhorov, who also serves as president of the Russian Biathlon Union, stepped in and paid her millions of [rubles] to stay silent.
Starykh and Prokhorov both denied the accusation on Thursday about the hush money saying no cash was every exchanged between the two.
We categorically deny this story, a representative for Prokhorov told the Journal. It is based on totally irresponsible hearsay and is complete nonsense.
The allegation marks the first time that Rodchenkov has gotten his knowledge about the Russian doping scandal from an intermediary, rather than being told directly about a cover-up attempt or witnessing it himself.
The 59-year-old chemist flipped the entire Olympic sporting world on its head last year when he came forward and revealed Russias systematic doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Rodchenkov, who is now in a witness protection program in the US, had been head of the Russian anti-doping laboratory that year and later admitted to orchestrating the entire state-sponsored program.
Russia was officially banned from next years Winter Games in South Korea and fined $15 million over the doping scandal.