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FIFA probes two Russian footballers on doping abuse allegations — Deputy PM Mutko

February 07, 21:10 UTC+3

Russian Football Union in this particular case is not a subject to doping control, Vitaly Mutko said

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© EPA/TASS

MOSCOW, February 7. /TASS/. The world’s governing football body, FIFA, is holding investigations in regard to two Russian footballers, Ruslan Kambolov and Ivan Knyazev, on suspicion of violating anti-doping regulations, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Wednesday.

"We initially received a list (from FIFA) with a request regarding 11 footballers and now two of them, namely Kambolov and Knyazev, are under an investigation," Mutko said in an interview with TASS.

"The RFU (Russian Football Union) in this particular case is not a subject to doping control, this case has nothing to do with the national team and we can only request or grant information," he said. "Athletes undergo (doping) testing during tournaments, European cups and in their national teams."

"We are absolutely open, Kambolov and Knyazev already testified and we will see where it all ends," Mutko added.

In September 2016, the FIFA requested data from Russia regarding 11 footballers, who were mentioned in the McLaren Report of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Mutko announced at that time that doping samples of nine footballers from the list tested negative for banned performance enhancing drugs.

Mutko, who oversees the issues of sports, tourism and youth affairs in the Russian government, also told TASS that the Russian football would withstand all doping abuse investigations.

"Do not worry, we will withstand everything, these are the links of the same chain," he said. "It looks funny, when our footballers are accused based only on some sort of mail correspondence or diaries of a former head of a (Moscow anti-doping) laboratory."

"There are doping samples and data stating when they were collected, so they should be reanalyzed and if something comes up then a guilty one must be subjected to penalties," Mutko said reiterating that Russia was broadly open and eager for cooperation with the FIFA.

"The Russian Football Union set up a task group, conducts its own investigations, questions people, answers all questions and football players are not hiding," Mutko said. "We are open, we are cooperating and we proposed the relevant FIFA commission at any convenient time for them to meet and to see what they have."

Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren, who headed the WADA Independent Commission, announced last June that Russia had a system to cover up acts of doping abuse in football. According to McLaren, a special bank with clean doping samples was allegedly in place and was used for samples’ substitution.

British weekly The Mail on Sunday came up with a report at that time that FIFA was holding investigations in regard to 34 Russian footballers, including 23 from the country’s national team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

In response to all allegations, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that all doping samples of Russian footballers, collected at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, tested negative for banned performance enhancing drugs.

In mid-December 2017, the WADA Intelligence and Investigations Team met with over 60 representatives from international sports federations, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and other Anti-Doping Organizations to share information from the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) database of the former WADA-accredited Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory.

FIFA was among the sports organizations, which were provided with new data from WADA regarding doping testing in Russia, including in football.

Following the meeting, FIFA announced that it would first study the data obtained from the WADA before discussing it with the Russian Football Union.

On December 21, the RFU requested assistance with the Russian Investigative Committee in investigations of alleged doping abuse cases in Russian football championships between 2012 and 2015.

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