RUSSIAN hoaxers used edited recordings of ex-International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Sir Philip Craven in an attempt to trick German investigative journalist Hajo Seppelt on the day Russia was suspended from February’s Winter Olympics.
Seppelt’s reports on the country’s state-sponsored doping programme have made him a target for Russian anger and he was accompanied again by security staff at the press conference in Lausanne which announced Russia’s Olympic ban on Tuesday.
But he had already received calls that morning from somebody who sounded like Craven and who wanted to talk about Russia.
Sensing something was amiss, Seppelt contacted IPC officials and gave them the British phone number that called him.
IPC communications director Craig Spence explained that when he called the number it was answered by an “east European voice.”
Spence asked to speak to “Sir Philip” and was told he would call back in five minutes. Spence immediately phoned back and the call went to a Russian voicemail message.
However, five minutes later, with Craven sitting alongside Spence at the IPC’s Bonn headquarters, the number did call back and “Sir Philip” started to ask Spence questions. It soon became clear that these questions had been spliced together from several of Craven’s speeches.
The 67-year-old Craven, who stepped down as IPC president in September, was the victim of a similar prank call in October 2016 and his critical comments about his Olympics counterpart Thomas Bach were later released by Russian broadcaster RT.