Russia Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko will temporarily step down from his role as head of the country’s football federation to appeal against accusations of a state-sponsored doping programme.
In early December, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned Mutko from the Olympics for life after being accused of having responsibility in the doping programme.
#UPDATE IOC bans Russia from next year's Winter Olympics but athletes could still compete as neutrals, while Russian Deputy PM Vitaly Mutko is barred from the Games for life over his involvement in the scandal https://t.co/l78sYnHNVU— AFP Sport (@AFP_Sport) 5 December 2017
The Deputy Prime Minister will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the IOC’s decision.
Mutko, 59, will still retain his job as Deputy Prime Minister overseeing sports, and his role as chairman of the World Cup organising committee.
Mutko: “I will definitely return”
On Monday, Mutko, who took charge of the Russian Football Union in September 2015, announced to the press his decision to temporarily step down.
“I have made a decision and informed the RFU Executive Board about it,” Mutko said. 'One of the union’s regulations state that if a president is unable to fulfill his duties, he should step down.”
“In order for the RFU to proceed with its work I have requested to suspend my duties for the period of up to six months. I am not resigning and my mandate will be still valid.'
He also commented that he will “definitely” be resuming his role at the RFU.
"I will definitely return after the period of six months, perhaps earlier," he added.
The RFU’s director, Alexander Alayev, will become acting president for the duration of Mutko’s suspension.
In a statement, FIFA said that Mutko’s decision to step down from the RFU will not impact the World Cup.
"FIFA understands Mr Mutko's decision which was also taken in the best interest of the World Cup next summer. FIFA thanks Mr. Mutko for this responsible step and for the work carried out so far for the World Cup," said a FIFA spokesman.
"Mr Mutko's decision will have no impact on the successful staging of the World Cup next summer, as FIFA, the Russian government, RFU and the local organizing committee continue their fruitful cooperation on the preparations for the World Cup according to plan."