Russia finds itself trapped in a doping scandal in the middle of playing hosts to the Confederation Cup.
The 23-man-squad from the 2014 World Cup is currently being investigated by FIFA over possible drug offences. They are among 34 Russian footballers being investigated by football’s world governing body. Russia’s contingent in the World Cup was knocked out in the group stage itself.
It is the first time the top-level players have been put under the scanner in Russia despite state-sponsored doping in the country being in the news for a while now.
A FIFA spokesman told the Mail On Sunday: “Fifa is still investigating the allegations made against [Russian] football players”.
The new charges follow the publication of two reports commissioned by WADA and authored by the Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren. It concluded that at least 1,000 people were assisted by what McLaren described as an “institutionalised manipulation of the doping control process in Russia”.
In February 2017, All-Russia Athletic Federation vice-president Andrey Silnov held a press conference in Moscow alongside former long jump world record-holder Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, who said East German athletes’ success due to state-sponsored doping should be seen as authentic results of ”good pharmacology,” rather than condemned as doping. Silnov did not challenge that claim. Doping in Russia is a serious issue as evidenced by the fact that the most Olympic medals for the same reason have been stripped from Russia (37).
FIFA is in possession of detailed evidence and will be forced to act on whatever intelligence it has. With the next World Cup scheduled to take place in Russia next year, there is, even more, the onus on FIFA to ensure that a sensible conclusion is reached in time to ensure this doesn’t occur again, or for any punishment to be carried out.