By Brian Homewood
ZURICH (Reuters) – Soccer’s world ruling body FIFA has promised “appropriate steps” after a report on Monday said a dozen positive doping cases in Russian football were among hundreds covered up by Moscow.
However, FIFA did not comment directly on allegations in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who sits on its supervisory FIFA Council, had ordered the cover-up in the cases of the footballers.
The independent WADA report, which followed an investigation led by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, concentrated on allegations of systematic doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
It said that Moscow had concealed hundreds of positive doping cases from a variety of sports, including soccer, in the run-up to the games.
“FIFA will request from WADA all details concerning the individual cases of doping in Russian football that are referenced in the McClaren report,” FIFA said in a statement to Reuters.
“Once FIFA receives this information from WADA, it will take the appropriate next steps.”
The report said that Russian Deputy Sports Minister Yuri Nagornykh had decided which athletes would benefit from a cover-up, known as a SAVE order, although Mutko appeared to make the decision with regard to footballers.
“The (chief investigator) is aware of at least one foreign footballer playing in the Russian League who had that benefit of a SAVE order,” it said.
“That SAVE decision was made by Minister Mutko and not Deputy Minister Nagornykh.”
Eleven Russian footballers also benefited from a cover-up after failing a doping test, the report said.
“Email evidence available… shows that the SAVE decision for the football players was the final decision of ‘VL’. VL is the first name and patronymic name initials of the Minister of Sport, Vitaly Leontiyevich Mutko.”
Mutko, president of the organizing committee for the 2018 World Cup which will be hosted by Russia, has not commented since the release of the McLaren report.
However, when the same allegations were made in June by German broadcaster ARD/WDR, he described them as “silly” and said that he and Russia were being smeared as payback for winning the right to host the 2018 World Cup.
Asked bout Mutko’s situation, FIFA said “the Ethics Committee is an independent body of FIFA and only it can decide what actions to take in respect to this issue.”
The ethics committee could not immediately be reached for comment.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)