FIFA Denies Report That It Knew About Doping Within Russian Soccer Team
After having it's Olympic federation, anti-doping agency (RUSADA), and Paralympic committee suspended, Russia now faces more allegations of sports doping. This time, it involves the men's national soccer team and according to a report from the Mail, FIFA knew about it.
The report pinpoints defender Ruslan Kambolov, who was originally named to the primary World Cup squad before bowing out ahead of the tournament with an unspecified injury. According to the report, the Russian Sports Ministry covered up Kambolov's positive test and swapped his tainted sample for a clean one. Furthermore, the report states that FIFA knew about the alleged cover up 18 months ago and chose to do nothing instead.
The soccer world's governing body released a statement prior to the start of the World Cup that it had found insufficient evidence to go after any of the current 23 team members for doping violations and it reiterated that stance in a statement on Sunday.
"In the course of the investigations, FIFA looked at every possible evidence, leaving no stone unturned," the global football governing body said.
All of this stems from the initial World Anti-Doping agency's McLaren Report which found evidence that over 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 sports, including soccer, were involved in a conspiracy to cover up positive tests. The whistleblower who initially brought attention to the conspiracy, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, was the subject of the documentary Icarus, which won the Oscar for "Best Documentary Film" earlier this year.
Russia has opened the World Cup with two dominant victories, 5-0 over Saudia Arabia and 3-1 over Egypt. This led some to speculate that everything wasn't quite on the same level. The team entered the tournament ranked 70th in the FIFA World Rankings and had gone just 2-1-2 (Win, Loss, Draw) in their last five matches prior to the tournament against the likes of Turkey, Austria, Morocco, Slovakia and Norway. Regardless of the allegations, the Russians currently lead Group A with 6 points, have a goal differential of +7 and are already locked in to the Round of 16.
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