BERLIN, May 15. /TASS/. German sports journalist Hajo Seppelt working for ARD TV-broadcaster received a visa to enter Russia last week on Monday, May 7, upon his request and FIFA’s accreditation to work as a journalist during matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup this summer, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Germany told journalists on Tuesday.
"The dual-entry visa to come to Russia for media work during the (2018) World Cup was in fact issued (to Seppelt) on May 7 based on a media accreditation approval from the FIFA," Denis Mikerin told journalists.
"There will be no obstacles impeding his (Seppelt’s) journalistic activities and he will be exercising same rights just like the rest of journalists making reports from the (2018) World Cup until July 25, based on the guarantees provided by Russia," the diplomat said.
Last week, German public broadcaster ARD announced that its sports journalist Hajo Seppelt was refused an entry visit to Russia, therefore he was allegedly denied to fulfill his professional obligations delivering reports about the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup.
However, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote in his Twitter account later that Seppelt was granted a visa to enter Russia for the duration of the international football championship. German magazine Stern also confirmed in its publications that ARD’s sports journalist Seppelt was issued a visa to travel to Russia.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission, chaired by Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren, delivered two parts of its report in 2016, namely in July and in December, on the alleged doping abuse and manipulations by Russian athletes and officials.
The WADA Independent Commission decided to launch its investigation following media reports, initiated by reports of German sports journalist Hajo Seppelt and based on testimony from a former head of Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov.
Rodchenkov told Western media in the spring of 2016 that Russian athletes largely used banned performance enhancing drugs at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi with the approval of the national sports authorities.
The ARD’s first two-part documentary, entitled Geheimsache Doping (Secret Doping Case), was released in December of 2014 and claimed that Russian athletes systematically took banned substances on instructions from their coaches.
On August 1, 2015, ARD released another documentary "Doping - Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics." The film claimed that ARD and British newspaper The Sunday Times had obtained a leaked database belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which contained more than 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes in the years 2001 to 2012.
ARD further alleged that a third of medals (146, including 55 golds) in endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests but none of these athletes have been stripped of their medals.
In March 2016, Seppelt premiered the third part of his documentaries, entitled "Doping Top Secret: Russia's Red Herrings." In that episode he claimed that the Russian athletics authorities were not taking sufficient steps to clean the sports from doping.
The fourth and the latest part of the German journalist’s documentaries on the allegedly widespread doping abuse in Russia was broadcast in June 2016 and was titled "Doping Secret: Showdown for Russia."
In January 2017, Germany’s ARD TV channel aired an interview of Russian track and field athlete Andrey Dmitriev with Hajo Seppelt as another part of German journalist’s investigative documentaries regarding the allegedly wide-spread abuse of performance enhancing drugs in Russian sports.