FIFA says still waiting for info on Russian doping cases
ST PETERSBURG: FIFA is still waiting for details on players implicated in an investigation of doping in Russian soccer, secretary general Fatma Samoura said on Thursday.
WADA investigator Richard McLaren published hundreds of pages of documents in December alleging widespread drug use and cover-ups in Russian sports. Some cases appear to involve the Russia Under-17 and Under-21 soccer teams.
"We are waiting for proof and also names of football players concerned," Samoura said during a visit to Russia, adding that FIFA wants "WADA or other stakeholders" to send the names.
Other major sports federations, particularly in winter sports, have started disciplinary proceedings after WADA supplied unredacted files on possible dopers. Athletes' identities were concealed with code numbers in the public version of McLaren's report.
However, WADA spokesman Ben Nichols said FIFA received names and summaries of evidence "a couple of days after" the McLaren report was published in December.
"What they might be referring to is that they're awaiting updated translations" of documents originally written in Russian, Nichols said.
Asked to clarify the issue, FIFA didn't explain the apparent contradiction in Samoura's and WADA's comments, saying only that it was "gathering further information" and the issue was not closed.
Emails released in December alongside McLaren's report state there were five suspicious samples in the Russia U17 and U21 teams in 2013 and 2014 for which no action was taken, plus two cases in the Russian league.
WADA previously said building disciplinary cases against individual Russians was difficult because the Moscow laboratory destroyed more than 1,000 samples. That means only documentary records — primarily leaked emails between Russian laboratory and sports officials — remain for some cases identified in McLaren's report.
Samoura dismissed suggestions the Russian doping scandals could tarnish the 2018 World Cup and the 2017 Confederations Cup.
"The doping has nothing to do with the two events," Samoura said.
"FIFA takes very seriously every aspect that can negatively impact the holding of events worldwide. Whether we are talking about doping, security and safety or discrimination, xenophobia, we make sure that bad behaviors are not affecting our competition."
Hooliganism is also "something that we are addressing" in the buildup to the World Cup, Samoura said. That follows violent clashes between England and Russia fans in Marseille during last year's European Championship, and an attack by Russian fans on English supporters in the stadium itself.
World Cup organizing committee CEO Alexei Sorokin said tight security and a database of information on ticket-holders would prevent disturbances and keep troublemakers away from stadiums.
"There may be occasional incidents (of hooliganism) but it's not a trend, it doesn't represent a tendency which is characteristic of our society," Sorokin said. "We are making everything possible for the fans to feel comfortable and safe in our country."