Fifa to look at 2014 Russia World Cup team on drug issues
The 23 players in the Russia squad at the 2014 World Cup are being investigated by Fifa over possible drug offences, it has emerged.
Russia is currently hosting the Confederations Cup, a tournament they exited at the group stage on Saturday following defeat to Mexico, and are also set to host the World Cup on home soil in less than a year.
Five of the 23 players tested at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were part of Stanislav Cherchesov’s squad at the Confederations Cup.
A report in England’s Mail On Sunday alleges that Russia’s entire 23-man squad, who were eliminated in the group stages in Brazil three years ago, were among 34 Russian footballers being investigated by world football’s governing body over possible drug offences.
Although there is no proof of any anti-doping violations, the players are said to be among 1,000 “people of interest” to the officials tasked with uncovering whether Russia’s state-sponsored and doping cover-up that has already identified hundreds of Russian athletes across the sports spectrum has spread its tentacles to football.
“Fifa is still investigating the allegations made against [Russian] football players,” a Fifa spokesman told the Mail On Sunday. Dick Pound, a former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), told the Mail On Sunday: “There is a huge onus on Fifa to reach a sensible conclusion on these matters before the World Cup takes place.
“It is incumbent on them to say what steps they are taking, what they find, and take whatever action necessary to protect the integrity of sport.
“Even within a governing body with as little credibility remaining as Fifa, if you were a senior official you wouldn’t want to be part of a body that ignores this.”
Pound said there had been “institutional denial of doping in football for years” and urged that Fifa “absolutely have to take this case seriously”.
More than 100 Russia athletes were barred from competing at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, including almost all of its track and field team, after being found guilty of anti-doping violations.
The new allegations, coupled with concerns over hooliganism and the mistreatment of migrant workers working on the country’s stadiums to stage World Cup matches, are likely to throw Russia’s suitability to stage the 2018 finals into serious doubt.
The Russian Football Union is yet to respond to the allegations.
The 2014 Russia World Cup squad – now under investigation.