‘FIFA won't do a damn thing’: Lifetime Olympic ban for Russia World Cup organiser will have ‘no impact’

The lawyer of the whistle-blower who uncovered Russia's state-sponsored doping programme believes FIFA has "zero interest" in finding out if the hosts of the next World Cup have been cheating at football, too.

Ex-Moscow anti-doping laboratory director Dr Grigory Rodchenkov's evidence was at the heart of Tuesday's decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to suspend Russia from February's Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

Following a recommendation from a disciplinary commission set up to investigate Rodchenkov's claims, the IOC ruled that only Russian athletes who are vetted by anti-doping experts will be invited to compete in Pyeongchang as neutrals.

More significantly for football, the IOC has also banned former sports minister Vitaly Mutko from the Games for life for his role in the doping conspiracy that sabotaged at least two Olympics and several major championships.

Mutko is now Russia's deputy prime minister, president of the Russian Football Union and the chairman of the organising committee for Russia 2018.

Vitaly Mutko, president of the Russian Football Union and FIFA President Gianni Infantino during a press conference ahead of the FIFA 2018 World Cup draw at The Kremlin, Moscow. Photo: Nick Potts/PA

A close associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Mutko shared a stage with FIFA president Gianni Infantino in a press conference ahead of Friday's World Cup draw in Moscow.

When asked what impact the IOC's decision would have on FIFA, Infantino said: "As far as FIFA is concerned, the answer is simple: it will have no impact.

"I don't see why. We are here speaking about football, about the World Cup, not about the Olympic Games."

That, however, was before the IOC announced its unprecedented sanctions against Russia, which include an £11million fine.

In an interview with Press Association Sport, Rodchenkov's lawyer Jim Walden said: "FIFA won't do a damn thing - they have zero interest in finding the truth, no interest in engaging in a meaningful, independent investigation to get to the bottom of this."

Rodchenkov has already told a World Anti-Doping Agency-funded inquiry, conducted by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren last year, that he helped more than 1,000 athletes from 30 different sports, including football, evade positive tests between 2011 and 2015.

More than 30 footballers are mentioned, but not by name, in McLaren's report, including members of the Russian team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

But Rodchenkov, who fled to the United States in November 2015 and is now in witness protection, told the IOC's commission even more damning information about Mutko's role in the doping scheme.

In a 52-page affidavit, seen by Press Association Sport, Rodchenkov says Mutko "orchestrated" the plan to sabotage the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, details numerous meetings with the then sports minister about doping and says his efforts to help Russians evade tests were funded by Mutko's ministry.

Referring to Mutko and his deputy Yuri Nagornykh, also now banned by the IOC, Rodchenkov said: "They knew about, and asserted control over, the state-sponsored system."

FIFA said it has "taken note" of the Russia's Olympic ban but "this decision has no impact on the preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup".

The statement repeats earlier declarations that FIFA is investigating the McLaren report, has been in contact with its author, is in "close collaboration" with WADA and takes its anti-doping responsibilities "very seriously".

It adds that any potential disciplinary action against individuals is a matter for the respective FIFA bodies, such as the ethics committee, to evaluate.

Walden, however, questioned football's desire to sanction Mutko.

Mutko was only removed from FIFA's executive committee when its governance committee chairman, Miguel Maduro, pointed out that deputy prime ministers were ineligible to stand under the sport's rules against governmental interference.

This observation led to Maduro's removal from office, as Infantino blamed him for jeopardising the World Cup and his presidency, the Portuguese governance expert alleged in front of a panel of MPs earlier this year.

"I've not heard boo from FIFA but I'm not remotely surprised my phone has failed to ring," said Walden.

"If they want to be compliant (with WADA rules), they should be investigating these allegations themselves - you don't wait for the evidence to come to you."


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