Sports

Call for Mutko ban

Russian sports minister and Fifa executive member accused of doping cover up

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has called on Fifa to investigate Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutko, a member of the football world body's executive, over drug failures in the sport.

A bombshell report on "state-dictated" doping in the country, which will host the 2018 World Cup, said the manipulation of tainted Russian samples was controlled by Mutko's (above) ministry.

The investigation by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, released on Monday, did not provide evidence of a detailed implication by Mutko in decisions to protect drug-cheat athletes.

But it said Mutko, president of the Russian football federation and chief organiser of the 2018 World Cup, took the decision to hide the doping case of a foreign player in the Russian football league.

McLaren quoted Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov as saying it was "inconceivable" that Mutko did not know about the whole doping system.

Wada called on Fifa to act on Mutko, a 57-year-old ally of President Vladimir Putin and sports minister since 2008.

Wada's stance was seized upon by activist group #NewFIFANow, who called for Fifa and European football's governing body Uefa to suspend Mutko.

"We note that Mr Mutko is entitled to the presumption of innocence about his level of involvement," said #NewFIFANow co-founder Jaimie Fuller.

"Having said that, the McLaren report pulls no punches and is very clear.

"As a minimum, we call on Fifa and Uefa to suspend Mr Mutko from his football roles pending further action and sanctions in respect of the broader issues.

"If they do not, it condemns Fifa and Uefa by their inaction."

The McLaren report said deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh had most daily responsibility for deciding which athletes would get a "SAVE" order and have failed tests manipulated or be put under "QUARANTINE".

The report added, however, that McLaren "is aware of at least one foreign footballer playing in the Russian league who had that benefit of a SAVE order".

"That SAVE decision was made by Minister Mutko and not Deputy Minister Nagornykh."

It said 11 footballers in all had drug cases covered up.

Fifa acknowledged the Wada call, but said its ethics committee is independent "and only it can decide what actions to take in respect to this issue".

Mutko is due to stand for re-election to Fifa in March.

Much of the McLaren report is based on evidence provided by Rodchenkov, former director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory now in hiding in the United States.

The Kremlin has slammed Rodchenkov as "a person with a scandalous reputation".

Rodchenkov is now under criminal investigation by Russian authorities.

The McLaren report said, however, that there were "several documents which tend to corroborate Dr Rodchenkov's conclusion". - AFP.

sportWorld Anti-Doping AgencyWadafifaRussiaSPORTS MINISTERVitaly MutkodrugsRICHARD MCLARENwhistleblowerGrigory Rodchenkov