The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has called on FIFA to investigate Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko, a member of the football world body’s executive, over drug failures in football.
A bombshell report on “state-dictated” doping in Russia, which will host the 2018 World Cup, said the manipulation of tainted Russian samples was controlled by Mutko’s ministry.
The investigation by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, released on Monday, did not provide evidence of a detailed implication by Mutko in decisions to protect drug-cheat athletes.
But it said Mutko, president of the Russian football federation and chief organiser of the 2018 World Cup, took the decision to hide the doping case of a foreign player in the Russian football league.
McLaren quoted Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov as saying it was “inconceivable” that Mutko did not know about the whole doping system.
WADA called on FIFA to act on Mutko, a 57-year-old ally of President Vladimir Putin and sports minister since 2008.
“Another notable finding within the (McLaren) report is the role that one of FIFA’s executive committee members, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, played within the system,” said a WADA statement.
“Accordingly, WADA urges the FIFA ethics committee to look into the allegations concerning football and the role played by this member.”
WADA’s stance was seized upon by activist group #NewFIFANow who called for FIFA and European football’s governing body UEFA to go a step further and suspend Mutko.
“We note that Mr Mutko is entitled to the presumption of innocence about his level of involvement,” said #NewFIFANow co-founder Jaimie Fuller.
“Having said that, the McLaren report pulls no punches and is very clear.
“As a minimum, we call on FIFA and UEFA to suspend Mr Mutko from his football roles pending further action and sanctions in respect of the broader issues.
“If they do not, it condemns FIFA and UEFA by their inaction.”
The McLaren report said deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh had most daily responsibility for deciding which athletes would get a “SAVE” order and have failed tests manipulated or be put under “QUARANTINE”.
The report added however that McLaren “is aware of at least one foreign footballer playing in the Russian league who had that benefit of a SAVE order.”
“That SAVE decision was made by Minister Mutko and not Deputy Minister Nagornykh.”
It said 11 footballers in all had drug cases covered up.
It quoted email evidence as saying that “the SAVE deciWWsion for the football players was the final decision of ‘VL’.
“VL is the first name and patronymic name initials of the Minister of Sport Vitaly Leontiyevich Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian football federation.”
FIFA acknowledged the WADA call but said its ethics committee is independent “and only it can decide what actions to take in respect to this issue.
“For its part, FIFA will request from WADA all details concerning the individual cases of doping in Russian football that are referenced in the McLaren report. Once FIFA receives this information from WADA, it will take the appropriate next steps.”
Mutko is due to stand for reelection to FIFA in March.
The Kremlin said officials “directly” implicated by the report would be suspended but did not name them and attacked what it called the “dangerous” new “interference of politics in sport.”
WADA president Craig Reedie demanded that the Russian government sack all sports ministry officials “implicated” by the McLaren report, but did not name any individuals.
Much of the McLaren report is based on evidence provided by Rodchenkov, former director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory now in hiding in the United States.
Rodchenkov told the inquiry that in meetings with deputy minister Nagornykh on the doping cover-up, “Nagornykh told him that Minister of Sport Mutko was aware of everything that they were discussing.
“Dr Rodchenkov’s evidence is that it is inconceivable that Minister Mutko was not aware of the doping cover-up scheme.”
The Kremlin has slammed Rodchenkov as “a person with a scandalous reputation.”
Rodchenkov is now under criminal investigation by Russian authorities.
The McLaren report said however that there were “several documents which tend to corroborate Dr Rodechenkov’s conclusion.”
Rodchenkov said he discussed a response to a German television documentary last year on doping in Russian athletics with Mutko.
The whistleblower added that he met with Mutko before the Sochi Olympics. “Dr Rodchenkov’s evidence is that the doping cover up plan for Sochi was discussed at those meetings.”
Rodchenkov also testified that Mutko knew about bribes allegedly paid to former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Lamine Diack to cover up doping failures by race walkers.
“Dr Rodchenkov’s evidence is that in September 2012 he met with Minister Mutko to discuss the IAAF’s extorsion demand.
“At that meeting, Minister Mutko asked Dr Rodchenkov whether the situation was really so bad he needed to pay all of that money, thereby exposing his knowledge of the doping problem in Russian athletics.”
McLaren made clear the power of the sports ministry, refered to as the MofS, over the Moscow and Sochi doping laboratories during the Winter Olympics and other events.
“The Moscow laboratory was effectively caught up in the jaws of a vice. It was a key player in the successful operation of a state imposed and rigorously imposed programme which was overall managed and dictated by the MofS.”
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