FIFA cleared suspected Russian dopers to play in 2018 World Cup

November 26 – FIFA gave the go-ahead for two Russian players to take part in the World Cup even though the Russian Football Union (RFU) had listed them as suspected dopers, according to email exchanges in the latest information provided by the Football Leaks website and widely reported over the weekend.

Sergei Ignashevich and Mario Fernandes, who played every game at the tournament, were included on a list of 11 players that the Russian Football Union (RFU) provided to FIFA, according to Der Spiegel’s latest report of the leaks.

On May 22, just three weeks before the beginning of the World Cup, FIFA released a statement announcing that due to “insufficient evidence,” all investigations into Russian national team players for suspected doping had been closed following the much-publicised report by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren based on evidence from Moscow Laboratory director turned whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov.

FIFA did say that investigations of Russian footballers not in the World Cup squad were “still ongoing”, however, with further updates to be provided “in due course”.

FIFA did not provide the names of the players in question. But Der Spiegel says the RFU confirmed that it had sent FIFA a list of 11 names, including those of Ignashevich and Fernandes, and that FIFA president Gianni Infantino was aware of the list.

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