Right after the current Russian national team was eliminated from the Confederations Cup they’re hosting, FIFA confirmed that they’re currently investigating allegations that members of Russia’s 2014 World Cup team were doping, according to the Daily Mail on Sunday in Britain.
WADA commissioned a report that there are 1,000 “people of interest” in a probe into state-sponsored interference into 30 sports, and 34 of them are reportedly Russian soccer players. Five players from that team played in the recent Confederations Cup.
“FIFA is still investigating the allegations made against [Russian] football players,” a FIFA spokesperson told the Mail.
The paper cited a source who said that some players may have had their urine samples swapped out regardless of whether they were actually doping or not. Some of the Russian doping cases involving Olympic athletes had similar hallmarks.
Former WADA chief Dick Pound, who chaired the commission investigating potential Russian doping, was predictably stern when talking about the potential issues that have arisen from this revelation:
“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.
“There has been an institutional denial of doping in football for years … I’ve seen too many presentations by FIFA, straight out of fantasy land, about how they don’t have a problem. They absolutely have to take this case seriously.”
Since this is FIFA, and Russia is still going to host the World Cup next year, don’t expect too much to stem from this investigation. But after what has been revealed about Russian state-sponsored doping in the past, it wouldn’t at all be shocking to see this end up being true.
Certainly hasn’t helped their soccer team play any better, though.