Amid the alleged existence of a state-sponsored doping programme in Russia, the host country of next year’s World Cup, FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday denied doping is prevalent in football.
With Russia being stripped of a third of the medals obtained at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, suspicions have arisen that something similar might happen in the World Cup.
Next week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will meet to decide if Russia will be banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Infantino: Sufficient testing in football
FIFA president Gianni Infantino did not exactly look comfortable during Vitaly Mutko's 10+ minute rant about doping allegations, Russophobia and Tuesday's IOC decision about whether or not to ban Russia from the Winter Games. pic.twitter.com/zRMvBXwnnB— Joshua Robinson (@JoshRobinson23) 1 December 2017
Intending to distance football from recent widespread cases of doping in other sports, Infantino claimed that the level of testing in football is sufficient to prove that there is no doping in the sport.
“I don’t think there are many other international sports organizations who are doing as many anti-doping tests as football is doing, with FIFA, UEFA or national associations, in and out of competition, blood, urine, biological passports,” Infantino said during a press conference in Moscow.
“Professional players in top teams play 50 or 60 matches every year. They are tested, I don’t know how many times every year.
“If you would have a serious doping issue in football this would be known by now, whether in Russia or any other country in the world.”
Infantino explained that all tests from the 2017 Confederations Cup, the 2016 European Championship and the 2014 World Cup were negative.
President of the Russian Football Union implicated in doping allegations
Vitaly Mutko, President of the Russian Football Association, was the Minister of Sport at the time when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) determined that Russian athletes were part of a state-sponsored doping programme.
On 9 November 2015, WADA accused Mutko of likely complicity in the doping scheme.
“It was impossible for him [Mutko] not to be aware of it. And if he’s aware of it, he’s complicit in it,” said Dick Pound, former WADA president.
Speaking along Infantino on Friday, Mutko denied the existence of a state-backed doping program in Russia.
'I am ready to go to any court, to any disciplinary body and say that there was never, isn't and never will be any doping cover up programme,' he said. 'We don't need any of this.'
No one from Russia will have any involvement in the sample collection, storing and analysis for the drugs-testing program at next summer’s World Cup.