Russian doping scandal widens: World Cup team under investigation

Photo: Vaiz Ha/Flickr

Photo: Vaiz Ha/Flickr

27.06.2017

By Mads A. Wickstrøm
Just 12 months ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, FIFA opens an investigation of the entire Russian squad from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The investigation marks the latest chapter in the ongoing history of Russian doping allegations.

Russia is currently hosting the Confederations Cup – an international football tournament held every four year by FIFA. Since 2005, the tournament has been held in the nation that will host the next World Cup. As such, for Russia, the Confederations Cup serves as a test event ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

However, Russian sport is, once again, haunted by allegations of doping offences.

The entire Russian football team is now under investigation by FIFA, the sport’s governing body, that is asking if all 23 players were part of Russia’s state-sponsored doping programme during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, according to information obtained by The Mail on Sunday.    

The FIFA investigation is the first time that an entire football team has been under scrutiny.

In addition to the 23 players who were part of the Russian 2014 World Cup squad, a further 11 current professional footballers are on a list that includes more than 1000 ‘people of interest’, compiled by doping investigators in charge of getting to the bottom of the vast doping scandal surrounding Russian sport.

The footballers came to the attention of the anti-doping authorities because of irregularities with several urine samples. It is unknown whether there is an innocent explanation. There are also concerns that elite footballers were protected from tests whether they were doping or not, writes The Mail.

A history of Russian doping scandals
FIFA’s investigation into doping allegations aimed at the Russian national football team is the latest in a series of allegations and scandals surround Russian sport.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics 111 Russian athletes were barred from competition, including most of the Russian athletics team. Furthermore, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to impose a blanket ban on Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympic Games. However, the decision to refrain from a blanket ban of Russian athletes from the 2016 Olympics was met with widespread criticism by both athletes and experts.

Additionally, the 2016 McLaren independent Investigations Report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and compiled by Richard McLaren, revealed an extensive Russian state-sponsored system of doping during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The findings were, nevertheless, dismissed by Russia.

Vitaly Mutko, president of the Russian Football Union, and former sports minister, who was named in the WADA commissioned McLaren report as playing a key role in the wider Russian doping scandal, has repeatedly insisted that there has been no wrong-doing in Russian football. The revelation made by The Mail on Sunday, however, puts into question Mutko’s assurances.

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