Fifa seeks information on Russian doping in soccer from Rodchenkov
Fifa, soccer’s world governing body, has said it is seeking information on doping in Russian soccer from Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian whistleblower who is the former chief of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory.
The move came after Rodchenkov said that Fifa had previously failed to contact him about allegations that soccer was affected by an alleged doping conspiracy that has so far focused mainly on the 2014 winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
A total of 34 suspicious cases in Russian soccer are reported to have been identified by the independent McLaren report into the conspiracy, which included players from Russia’s Fifa World Cup squad in 2014. However, Richard McLaren, the Canadian law professor who was the author of the report, has denied counting the number of soccer players involved, saying that this was not his responsibility.
Russia is the host for this summer’s World Cup.
Fifa told AP: “After conducting an initial review of the new data from the Moscow laboratory provided recently by WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency], FIFA has now submitted a list of specific questions to the WADA designated lawyer for him to forward them to Dr. Rodchenkov.”
Jim Walden, Rodchenkov’s lawyer, said that the lab has “thousands and thousands and thousands of files in a secret portion of the server that show the disappearing positives which also benefited Russian soccer players.”
A total of 154 out of 3,000 samples awaiting investigation are from soccer players and, in view of the impending World Cup tournament, which is due to begin on 14 June, Fifa said: “FIFA has requested that a forensic analysis be conducted on a concrete number of samples (selected following the criteria set by WADA) and asked to be given priority. WADA informed FIFA that the order of priority will be made by the designated expert team. We haven’t heard from the expert team yet.”
Rodchenkov has volunteered to testify at a Court of Arbitration for Sport appeal by Vitaly Mutko, the former Russian sports minister, against his life ban from the Olympics for his part in the alleged conspiracy.
Last month, Mutko resigned as head of the World Cup organising committee, and, albeit on a temporary basis, as president of the Russian Football Union.
He had come under pressure to quit his sporting roles having been implicated in the scandal, although Fifa asserted in December that his ban would have no impact on the preparations for the World Cup, the first to be held in Russia.
Following Mutko’s resignation from the organising committee, Fifa said that it would “continue to work in close collaboration” with the new leadership “with the aim to deliver an exceptional event in June and July” and thanked him “for his invaluable contribution to the preparations.”
Mutko has repeatedly denied allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia, claiming recently: “I’m happy to go to any court, to any disciplinary committee, to anyone, and I’ll be happy to talk about how there has never been and will never be any state programmes related to doping in this country.”