Doctor Philipp Shvetsky: “We didn’t protect Kamila, and it’s a fact of guilt for all of us. But I must exclude myself from the list of suspects in this story.”
Doctor of the Russian figure skating team at the Olympic Games in Beijing, Philipp Shvetsky, in an interview with TASS, talked about the reasons for filing a lawsuit against German journalist Hayo Zeppelt from the ARD channel, how the prohibited substance could have entered Kamila Valieva’s body, and about xenon research.
source: TASS dd. 28th July 2023
Philipp, tell us why you decided to file a lawsuit against journalist Hayo Zeppelt to defend your honor, dignity, and professional reputation after such a long time after the Olympics in Beijing?
Philipp Shvetsky: Yes, quite some time has passed, but all of this has had a profound impact on my life. If it were just a hype – no questions, I would have endured it. But all of this affected my professional activities. Now, if you ask anyone, almost everyone is convinced that I provided Kamila Valieva with the substance. Moreover, if I were an ordinary person with the current information background, I would have thought the same about Shvetsky. And this reputation follows me. I received two reprimands followed by dismissal and loss of rewards. Now, any of my actions are subject to public scrutiny, and any of my appearances on the ice are amplified by the media.
My movements in this situation are severely restricted due to collegiality, medical confidentiality, and, ultimately, my personal beliefs. The only way out of this situation is through legal action.
By suing Zeppelt, you confront an entire channel.
Philipp Shvetsky: Yes, I have been waiting for someone to oppose me for a long time, but so far, people have only been talking about me. Perhaps this way, finally, I will achieve the truth? As for my guilt in this matter, I am indeed guilty. And I am not sure if I will ever forgive myself for it. We did not protect Kamila, and it is a fact of guilt for all of us. Again – I feel guilt for her. But I must exclude myself from the list of suspects in this story. There is still a law, and it should be on the side of the truth.
Do you have a version of what happened?
Philipp Shvetsky: No one knows the exact cause of what happened with Kamila Valieva at the Olympics; we are still trying to figure it out. Despite a powerful five-level defense before the Olympics, this happened. The question is – how? After all, Kamila was surrounded by professionals who knew how to work, what to do.
If a prohibited substance is found in an athlete’s body, they are considered guilty; there is no presumption of innocence in such situations. The role of surrounding specialists is to tell them what not to do. Kamila had coaches, three doctors – two at the rink and me, the team doctor. She was always in contact, asking what was allowed and what was not. Plus, there are two applications – WADA and RUSADA, where all these things are listed. Everything she took – and this is the minimal amount of safe medicines and dietary supplements – was checked many times.
All the medications she took throughout the year were in large packages. If there was anything, it would have been discovered much earlier. Therefore, I am 99 percent sure that this possibility is excluded, although, of course, one percent always remains. But this version is not viable.
Is the use of dietary supplements a common practice or an exception?
Philipp Shvetsky: Unfortunately, it is a common practice. I am categorically against dietary supplements, as all of them are registered without any clinical evidence of their effectiveness. We need numbers, evidence of efficacy. Dietary supplements are an easy way to commercialize a product, they do no harm and do no good. All essential substances in sports can be obtained from high-quality products, healthy people can get them naturally – this is what I have been constantly writing about in the “World of Figure Skating” magazine, with an emphasis on anti-doping behavior, especially in urgent situations. The idea of a “magic pill” in sports is unbreakable. And athletes can accuse doctors of unprofessionalism if you refuse to give them a particular permitted medication. Hence the stories when doctors provided athletes with calcium gluconate instead of that “magic pill.” Now, everyone has become more knowledgeable.
Kamila was taking L-carnitine, hypoxene, but there are no studies on them either. In my opinion, this is just an unnecessary chemical burden on the body.
You mentioned that you lost your job. What are you doing now?
Philipp Shvetsky: I continue to work at the hospital in the intensive care unit, where we prothesis vital organs that are in critical condition. I work there for 21 years now. By the way, our chief doctor received a letter from a “well-wisher” about my “dark past,” but my professional qualities were not doubted.
In addition to that, I am a senior researcher at the Institute of Laser Medicine of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency of Russia, engaged in scientific activities. I also continue to accompany athletes of the Figure Skating Federation of Russia and the professional basketball club MBA.
In Zeppelt’s film, it is said that you were engaged in xenon research banned in sports.
Philipp Shvetsky: Xenon is primarily a part of human existence; we breathe it every day, and it has been known since the 16th century. Now, they have learned to extract it in pure molecules, and it is used in the aerospace industry, IT technology production, particularly in chip manufacturing, as well as in medicine. It is an effective vector because it is an environmentally clean inert gas that positively impacts the human body. By acting on its receptors, it protects the body from aggressive external and internal factors. Xenon is, of course, not a panacea, but it can help manage pain and stress when used as part of a comprehensive approach.
Our research has always been transparent. And yes, athletes were among our volunteers. That was until it was banned in sports.
Why do you think it was banned?
Philipp Shvetsky: I believe it was primarily because it is a Russian product, and we made significant progress in this work; it was a priority for us. Major institutions were involved in this research.
Did foreigners study it?
Philipp Shvetsky: They were more focused on argon, which is widely used in the USA. Xenon and argon are global things, and everyone studied them. But once WADA banned it in 2015, there were no athletes in this program from 2015.
One of Zeppelt’s accusations against you involves the 2007 rowers’ case (six athletes were disqualified for violating anti-doping rules – Ed. TASS). You took responsibility for what happened.
Philipp Shvetsky: Everyone remembers that, but few bothered to read all the materials of that case. We fought for a year because we had to save the guys. Yes, we found those responsible – the head coach and me. However, the athletes themselves admitted that they gave themselves those injections without medical indications and without doctors’ supervision – that’s one thing. And secondly, why didn’t anyone try to correlate all the facts when it was happening? By that time, our federation was ready to send two top-notch teams to the Olympics. It was a blatant “impudence,” from the interpretation or view of our competitors.
Let me explain: for a complete disqualification of a team, a certain number of positive cases of doping use is required. At that time, intravenous infusions were prohibited, with which I completely agree – there is no benefit in using them without medical indications, only harm to the body. But at that time, the entire sports world was guilty of that. As for the rowers, they used legal substances by illegal methods. First, three athletes were caught, then another three, and then another three – to accuse them of a mass violation, nine cases were required.
Now a little background – the remaining traces of the infusions were found in a garbage bin in Switzerland by an alert Swiss citizen. He went out for a walk, then climbed into the trash bin, unwrapped the package, then brought it to the local rowing federation and said it belonged to Russians. Does this not raise any doubts? I said back then that it was an intentional provocation, but no one wanted to listen; it was easier for everyone to agree and ruin the results of the extensive preparation of good athletes. As they say, “years go by.”
The off-screen voice in Zeppelt’s film also mentioned the case with figure skater Ekaterina Bobrova and meldonium.
Philipp Shvetsky: The situation with Katya was quickly resolved at the time; everyone apologized to each other and parted ways, but the negative aftermath is following me again.
After what happened at the Olympics in Beijing, were you involved in the investigation?
Philipp Shvetsky: I was questioned by representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and there are relevant documents to prove it. I even requested to take a lie detector test, and I hope it will happen soon. I was also at RUSADA (Russian Anti-Doping Agency). There, they asked me what I learned from the rowers’ situation. That situation taught me valuable lessons; I was just starting my journey as a sports doctor. After going through all those investigations, you would never want to go through it again. It is a tough procedure for all those involved.
Returning to communication with specialists from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, I realized that to get to the truth, you need to look for motives and benefits. In Kamila’s case, what could have been the motive? None at all. Her performance results over the past few years showed that she could win even with minor mistakes. She just had to do what she does best, and that’s it. With the current anti-doping control, why take such risks? Her entire support team worked tirelessly for four years to ensure our athletes excelled at the Olympics.
By the way, everyone has forgotten how we made it to the Olympics and how many people were excluded due to COVID-19. In Krasnoyarsk, we took COVID-19 tests twice a day, taken by two different sanitary organizations. But everyone has simply forgotten about that.
The doping test at the Russian Nationals was second to last, then there was a test at the European Championships, and nothing was found. Doesn’t this say something?
Philipp Shvetsky: It is an indirect fact that she is innocent.
Where did the theory about the grandfather’s glass come from?
Philipp Shvetsky: They needed an immediate explanation of how it could have ended up in her body. It was clear that it was an accidental intake. We consulted with the pharmacology institute – to completely eliminate this dosage, it takes from 24 to 72 hours, no more. So, yes, that was the first thing that came to mind.
Was the version that Valieva’s positive test result was the result of someone’s malicious intent considered?
Philipp Shvetsky: There are no coincidences; whatever you want to do with me. It’s inconceivable that two hours after a team Olympic victory, information about a positive doping test for one of the Russian figure skaters suddenly appeared. On February 9, when it was announced that it was Kamila Valieva, I immediately said: if I appear in this scheme in the near future, it’s a set-up. I appeared in it on February 11, after a day passed. And immediately, a video film from Germany, and some of our deputies supported this topic in the media. The focus was successfully shifted.
Hayo Zeppelt said in the film that my name was given to him by Russian sources close to the federation. But to create such a film in such a short period, and with such quality, is very difficult. I really liked the quality – it was good, typical German quality. In this whole situation, Kamila and I became instruments to launch a certain mechanism that was planned in advance.
About a month ago, you filed a lawsuit against a Togliatti edition; they issued a refutation of their material without waiting for the court. Now it’s ARD and Zeppelt. Are these all links in one chain?
Philipp Shvetsky: I needed to understand whether I can justify myself in a legal process. About 50 media outlets published such materials. In that material, according to my lawyers’ subjective perspective, there was the most denigrating information about me. But ARD and Zeppelt, undoubtedly, became the main triggers.
When preparing athletes, participating in international competitions, I did everything for Russia, and this is not false patriotism. All this was done for half of my state salary, which is no secret to anyone. I combined work in intensive care with the preparation of the national team athletes, which was constructive in the end. But this tandem puzzled American journalists, while I just wanted to be with the Russian team and athletes. Feeling connected is important to me; I love sports. I have been living this life since 2005. What doping system? It doesn’t exist, just like it didn’t exist during Soviet times. Back then, there were some isolated attempts, but it was far from a “system.”
A few days ago, another “creation” by Grigory Rodchenkov came out about the Russian doping system.
Philipp Shvetsky: It’s funny to me. I participated in preparing for Sochi, and to me, this is all fantasy – Duchesse cocktail? God forbid. And who voluntarily tried such a thing? With modern detection methods, it would have been found in seconds. We approached the Games clean. It’s just the triumph of nonsense.
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