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Deputy PM Mutko Steps Down As Russian Soccer Chief


Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko (file photo)

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko is temporarily stepping down from his post as head of the country's soccer federation amid pressure over allegations of systematic doping.

Mutko, who has been penalized with a lifetime ban from the Olympic Games over doping, said on December 25 that he is suspending his role as president of the Russian Football Union (RFS) for six months while he contests the ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

"I have decided to file the claim in the CAS tomorrow," he said after an RFS executive board meeting.

Claims concerning the widespread abuse of performance-enhancing drugs among Russia's top athletes have tarnished its successes at the 2014 Winter Olympics, which were held in the Russian city of Sochi.

In response to the doping scandal, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on December 5 announced a lifetime ban on Mutko's participation in future Olympics.

"So that our organizations are not disturbed during the legal investigation... I have asked to suspend my duties for up to six months," Mutko told journalists after a meeting of the RFS executive committee.

Besides being a former Russian sports minister, Mutko has been a longtime sports policy associate of President Vladimir Putin.

He led Russia's Football Union from 2005 to 2009, and was again elected to the soccer's top position in 2015.

Mutko, 59, remains chief organizer of next year's World Cup in Russia.

He had said earlier this month that he was ready to resign if called upon by the country's leadership.

"Regarding the issues concerning the relationship with FIFA and the organizing committee, as long as the president trusts me, I continue to work as deputy premier and oversee the preparations for the world championships," he said.

RFS Director-General Aleksandr Alayev has been appointed acting president, Mutko added.

With reporting by dpa, AFP, TASS, Interfax
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