‘The Rodchenkov Affair’, a riveting account of Russia’s state-backed doping programme by whistleblower Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, has won William Hill’s ‘Sports Book of the Year’ (#SBOTY2020) award.
William Hill’s judging panel, chaired by The Times sports journalist Alyson Rudd, stated that there was “simply no contest for the top honour given the stunning revelations, captivating narrative and far-reaching effects of Rodchenkov’s book”.
Currently, in hiding, Rodchenkov was the key whistleblower of Russia’s 2015 ‘RUSADA scandal’, which revealed Russia’s sophisticated state-financed athlete doping programme – described by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as the ‘biggest scandal in world sports’ history’.
The aftermath of the scandal, initially disclosed during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, saw the IOC ban Russia from all syndicated international events for four years, with the country denied participation in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games and 2022 FIFA Qatar World Cup.
Literary critics have branded ‘The Rodchenkov Affair’ as a must-read expose which documents the Kremlin’s control over all Russian sports programmes and agencies – used as a further political weapon by the Putin regime against detractors and as means to define Russia’s modern identity on the global stage.
The Rodchenkov Affair was praised for its searing honesty and bravery, explaining in gripping detail how RUSADA’s lead scientist helped ensure Russian athletes who cheated through doping, evaded detection by international authorities.
“He is a whistleblower like few others, and he remains a ‘ghost’ now living in America, separated from his family, the price he pays for wanting to be on the side of truth,” Rudd remarked on the grim consequences of Rodchenkov’s expose.
Rodchenkov will receive the £30K winner’s cheque and a leather-bound copy of his book in becoming the 32nd winner of William Hill’s prestigious literary award – recognised as the highest honour in sports literature.
Publisher Penguin Random House commented on the award: “We’re thrilled that this unique book has received such a prestigious award.
“The Rodchenkov Affair is 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. It feels fitting that The Rodchenkov Affair – forged in clandestine circumstances, by an author in total seclusion, published during a year of lockdowns – is now finally getting the attention it deserves.”