The former head of the International Paralympic Committee suspects he was targeted by Russian hoaxers for the second time in a year on the day the country was banned from the Winter Olympics.
Sir Philip Craven has warned other sporting administrators to be wary of impersonators after recordings of his voice were used in a series of phone calls to various high-profile figures. The German journalist Hajo Seppelt, who played a key role in exposing systematic doping in Russia, answered a phone call on Tuesday by someone claiming to be Craven.
While the voice sounded familiar, Seppelt sensed something was amiss when “Craven” did not respond to his questions in the manner he would expect. He contacted IPC officials and gave them the UK phone number that called him.
Craig Spence, the IPC communications director, called the number and it was answered by an “east European voice”. He asked to speak to “Sir Philip” and was told he would call back in five minutes. Spence immediately phoned back and the call first went to a Russian voicemail message.
However, five minutes later, with the Bolton-born Craven sitting alongside Spence in a meeting room at the IPC’s Bonn headquarters, the number called back and “Craven” started to ask Spence questions.
“We thought at the very most it was going to be some poor impersonation of a Bolton accent,” Spence said. “But as soon as Sir Philip heard it he mouthed an expletive to me and wrote on a notepad: ‘That’s definitely my voice.’”
Craven suspects the questions had been spliced together from recordings of several of his speeches.