Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Russian World Cup chief labels doping claims ´made-up news´

SoccerNews in World Cup 26 Jun 2017


Alexey Sorokin, the chief executive of the local organising committee for Russia 2018, has described allegations made by the Mail on Sunday that the country’s national football team were involved in a doping programme as “bizarre” and “absolutely made-up news”.

A report published by the British newspaper claimed Russia’s entire 23-man squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, along with 11 other footballers, were “people of interest” to officials investigating state-sponsored doping in the nation that will host the next edition of FIFA’s flagship tournament.

World football’s governing body released a statement to say it was “still investigating” the claims surrounding players mentioned in the 2016 McLaren report on Sunday but stressed the Russia squad did not fail any pre-tournament or post-match doping tests at the previous World Cup.

The presence of negative test results was something Sorokin, the former general director of the Russian Football Union, leant heavily upon during the Confederations Cup “half-time” news conference in St Petersburg on Monday.

It was underlined no players from any of the eight participating nations, including hosts Russia, had failed a doping test over the previous nine days of competition.

“My first emotion was that I felt it’s very good that the Daily Mail is focusing on such issues,” Sorokin said. “That means the tournament [the Confederations Cup] is indeed going well because they are writing about things from the past.

“Seriously speaking, it’s very bizarre that this appears now. It is clear that it is absolutely made-up news.

“We have received a very clear response from FIFA that players have been tested according to pre-match and after-match procedure. All the results are negative so I do not see what is to discuss in this regard.

“In general, there hasn’t been a single doping incident in Russian football in many recent years. So maybe we should discuss things other than this.

“We do not think of it as a serious matter. It is very strange to find it in British papers right now.”

Lawyer Richard McLaren published a report in December last year claiming that, between 2011 and 2015, more than 1,000 Russian sportspersons benefited from an organised scheme in which the results of positive doping tests were covered up or manipulated.

McLaren described the programme as corruption “on an unprecedented scale”.

When it was put to Sorokin that the main concern of the allegations was not in-tournament testing but a behind-the-scenes scandal, he elected to steer along his chosen course.

“Why should we talk about somebody’s statement based on an un-credible witness. We should talk about the facts,” he added.

“We know there were occasions where the entire team were tested and there was not a positive result. That is an absolute fact. We can discuss someone’s allegations endlessly but those are facts.

“It is not for me to comment on the specifics of the McLaren report. My job is very different. Who is credible in this report or not, who do we choose to believe or not choose to believe?

“If there are facts, let’s talk about facts; if there are not let’s talk about football.”


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