January 16 – The extent to which football might have been affected by the Russian doping scandal has finally prompted action by FIFA which has confirmed it has questioned whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov.
FIFA says it has given a full list of questions to the lawyer of the former Moscow laboratory chief, whose revelations exposed the explosive scandal that rocked Russian sport, and has also “requested that a forensic analysis is conducted on a concrete number of samples”.
“FIFA is already in possession of information from Dr. Rodchenkov, since we have been in contact with Prof. (Richard) McLaren who gave us the information concerning football given to him by Dr. Rodchenkov,” a statement said.
“In addition, after conducting an initial review of the new data from the Moscow laboratory provided recently by WADA, FIFA has now submitted a list of specific questions to the WADA designated lawyer for him to forward them to Dr Rodchenkov.
“Moreover, FIFA has requested that a forensic analysis be conducted on a concrete number of samples (selected following the criteria set by WADA) and asked to be given priority. WADA informed FIFA that the order of priority will be made by the designated expert team. We haven’t heard from the expert team yet.”
Rodchenkov fled to the United States in January 2016 saying he feared for his life. In February 2016 two senior officials in the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) died, one of who sports minister Vitaly Mutko described at the time as having died suddenly. Rodchenkov provided information which led to an investigation of doping at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014. Since then, Russian athletes have been banned from the Rio Olympics in 2016 and Russia has been barred from February’s Winter Olympics in South Korea though athletes who are deemed “clean” can compete under the Olympic flag.
The spotlight has inevitably turned to Russia’s hosting of the World Cup in June and July and FIFA are anxious to get to the bottom of the scale of state-sponsored doping when it comes to football, including allegations of 34 suspicious football cases that named players from Russia’s World Cup squad in 2014.
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