Tuesday 16 January 2018

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Mutko rubbishes report of doping investigation into Russian football team

Vitaly Mutko, Russian Deputy Prime Minister talks to the media after the opening press conference at the Zenit Arena on June 16, 2017 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Stuart Franklin - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Vitaly Mutko, Russian Deputy Prime Minister talks to the media after the opening press conference at the Zenit Arena on June 16, 2017 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Stuart Franklin - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Jack O'Toole

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko has rubbished a Mail on Sunday report alleging that Russia's entire football squad for the 2014 World Cup were under investigation by world football's governing body, FIFA, for doping.

Nick Harris of The Mail on Sunday wrote that 23 players of Russia's 2014 World Cup squad were being monitored by FIFA to identify if the squad were part of Russia's vast state-sponsored doping programme.

The investigation alleges that the 23 Russian players that went to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, as well as 11 current Russian professional footballers, are on a list of more than 1000 'people of interest' drawn up by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigators.

Last year a 144-page report was released Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, on behalf of WADA, that revealed that more than 1,000 Russians athletes across more than 30 sports – including football – were involved in or benefited from state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015.

McLaren called the programme “a cover-up that operated on an unprecedented scale”, and directed responsibility at the Russian ministry of sport, the Russian security services and the Russian anti-doping agency for their facilitation of the programme.

Vitaly Mutko, the Russian Minister of Sport at the time and the current Deputy Prime Minister, rubbished the Mail's report and said that their investigation was 'nonsense'.

“There have never been and will never be any problems with doping in our football — our team are permanently being tested, they undergo doping tests after every match,” Mutko told Russian news agency TASS.

“They have written some sort of nonsense. Don’t bother reading the English newspapers in the morning.”

Four of the players from Russia's 2014 World Cup squad were competing with the national team at this month's 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

Stanislav Cherchesov's side were eliminated from the tournament on Saturday after losing 2-1 to Mexico in their final group game in Kazan.

However, FIFA's press service said that every participating player at the Confederations Cup had been tested through blood and urine tests, and that the results of the unannounced tests have been negative so far.

"As far as the FIFA Confederations Cup is concerned, every participating player has been tested through blood and urine in unannounced controls," FIFA's press service told TASS.

"Both the results of the unannounced and the post-match tests have been negative so far. Furthermore, all players participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup - including all members of the Russian squad - underwent pre-competition and post-match tests, all of which resulted negative.

"FIFA was in charge of the tests and sent all samples to be analysed by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Lausanne. The same procedure is currently being applied for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017.

"FIFA has simply confirmed that, in close collaboration with WADA, it is still investigating the allegations involving football players in the so-called McLaren report," the press service said. "However, FIFA did not refer to any particular players, since it cannot comment on the status of ongoing investigations."

"It is in FIFA’s interest that such procedures are finalised as early as possible, since until then FIFA will not be in a position to provide any further details."

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