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FIFA To Respond To Cover-Up Of Doping By Russian Soccer Players

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko

Soccer's world ruling body FIFA has promised "appropriate steps" after a report on July 18 found that a dozen doping cases in Russian soccer were among hundreds covered up by Moscow.

FIFA did not comment directly on allegations in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who sits on its supervisory council, had ordered the cover-up in the cases of the soccer players.

The independent WADA report, authored by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, said that Moscow had concealed hundreds of positive drug tests involving athletes from a variety of sports, including soccer.

FIFA said it "will request from WADA all details concerning the individual cases of doping in Russian football that are referenced in the McClaren report."

"Once FIFA receives this information from WADA," it continued, "it will take the appropriate next steps."

The WADA report said that Russian Deputy Sports Minister Yury Nagornykh had decided which athletes would benefit from a cover-up, known as a "SAVE" order, although Mutko appeared to make the decision with regard to soccer players.

"The [chief investigator] is aware of at least one foreign footballer playing in the Russian league who had that benefit of a SAVE order," it said. "That SAVE decision was made by Minister Mutko and not Deputy Minister Nagornykh."

Eleven Russian soccer players also benefited from a cover-up after failing doping tests, the report said.

"E-mail evidence available...shows that the SAVE decision 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."

Mutko, president of the organizing committee for the 2018 World Cup which will be hosted by Russia, has not commented since the release of the McLaren report.

However, when the same allegations were made in June by German broadcaster ARD/WDR, he described them as "silly" and said that he and Russia were being smeared as payback for winning the right to host the 2018 World Cup.

Asked bout Mutko's situation, FIFA said "the Ethics Committee is an independent body of FIFA and only it can decide what actions to take in respect to this issue."

With reporting by Reuters and TASS
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