FIFA may punish Russia - Infantino
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP):
Russia will face any "necessary actions and sanctions" after investigators alleged that footballers had suspicious drug-test samples covered up as part of a wider doping scandal in the 2018 World Cup host nation, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said yesterday.
Five suspicious samples in the Russian men's under-17 and under-21 national teams in 2013 and 2014 were exposed in emails released earlier this month by the World Anti-Doping Agency, accompanying investigator, Richard McLaren's, report into Russian doping.
Then-sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who is also in charge of Russia's World Cup preparations, has been accused of covering up a doping case in the Russian league. FIFA's ethics committee has said it will examine McLaren's report and the role of Mutko, who sits on FIFA's ruling council.
Asked whether he still trusts Mutko, Infantino said: "He is a council member and, of course, we are working together."
"If anything has happened with regards to doping cases in football which were covered up and which now are unveiled, then both FIFA as well as UEFA, depending on what the competence is for these particular cases, will be dealing with them and we will take the necessary actions and sanctions," Infantino told a sports conference in Dubai.
"I don't think we should mix up a doping issue, even if it is a big doping issue, with the organisation for the World Cup which is a completely different thing where it comes to anti-doping in the World Cup. This is a FIFA matter. It will be dealt with by FIFA officials in world accredited laboratories ... very probably in Switzerland."
Russia was accused by McLaren of subverting doping procedures at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, with intelligence officers involved in tampering with samples of Russian medal winners.
"We will guarantee that the World Cup in Russia will be completely safe when it comes to anti-doping matters or when it comes to doping cases," Infantino said.