World Cup squad cleared by Fifa in Russian doping investigation
Fifa, soccer's world governing body, will take no action over allegations of doping among Russian soccer players ahead of this summer's World Cup, saying that insufficient evidence has been found after completing part of its investigation.
The governing body launched an investigation after soccer was implicated in an alleged Russian doping conspiracy that has so far focused mainly on the 2014 winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
A total of 34 suspicious cases in Russian soccer were reported to have been identified by the independent McLaren report into the conspiracy, which were said to include players from Russia’s Fifa World Cup squad in 2014.
The investigation focused on players against whom suspicions had been raised, as well as those who might participate in the Fifa World Cup in Russia this summer.
Fifa said today that the investigation concerning the 35 players selected for Russia's provisional World Cup squad had been completed, with “insufficient evidence” found to assert an anti-doping rule violation.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has been informed of the conclusions and agreed to close the cases.
The investigation continues into players that are not involved in the forthcoming World Cup. Fifa said that further updates will be provided at a later date.
Fifa’s investigation has included contacting Richard McLaren, the Canadian law professor and author of the report, and questioning Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian whistleblower who is the former chief of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory.
Substances that had been stored at WADA-accredited labs were also re-analysed and samples that were seized from the Moscow laboratory were subjected to forensic analysis for scratch marks and abnormal levels. All tests came back negative, according to Fifa.
Although they have not been named in full, more than 1,000 athletes from 30 sports, were implicated in the alleged covering-up of samples between 2011 and 2015, notably at Sochi 2014.