Doping report casts darkening shadow over Russia’s World Cup credentials

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December 9 – Russia’s staging of the 2018 World Cup has been plunged back into fresh controversy following today’s damning report that suggests more than 1,000 Russian sportsmen and women – including Olympic medallists – benefited from a state-sponsored programme across 30 sports – including football.

The bombshell report by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, which builds on his initial explosive findings published in July, alleges “an institutional conspiracy” among officials within the Russian Ministry of Sport.

McLaren, who presented his latest findings at a news conference in London, said a “systematic and centralised” cover up of positive samples across summer, winter and Paralympic sports was in place from 2011 to 2015.

“It was a cover-up that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy,” he said adding that the London 2012 Games were  “corrupted on an unprecedented scale”.

Russia won 72 medals at the London Games, 21 of which were gold, and 33 medals at Sochi 2014, 13 of which were gold.

“The desire to win medals superseded their collective moral and ethical compass and Olympic values of fair play,” McLaren wrote.

He said international sports competitions had been “unknowingly hijacked by the Russians” and sports fans have been “deceived” for years. “It is time that stops,” he added.

Whilst he wouldn’t be drawn on the merits of next year’s World Cup in Russia, he acknowledged that Vitaly Mutko, a long-serving member of FIFA’s top brass and chief organiser of the World Cup, was Sports Minister during the time of the scandal.

Mutko has recently been promoted to Deputy Prime Minister and McLaren has certainly thrown down the gauntlet to FIFA to further examine Russia’s credentials.

Asked about doping in football, of which more than 30 instances have been referenced in the report, McLaren said that decisions will have to be made by those who have been sent the evidence.

“I don’t have an opinion,” McLaren said. “That’s up to other people. They should look at the report and draw their own opinions.”

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