Russia’s World Cup can’t avoid the tarnished legacy of Russia’s Winter Olympics. The doping scandals that have consumed Russian sports for the last three years took another turn Tuesday as the International Olympic Committee handed a lifetime ban to Vitaly Mutko, the sports minister during the 2014 Sochi Games.
After Sochi, the IOC ruled the host nation operated a doping program and tampered with Russian athletes’ urine samples. Still, Mutko has maintained a prominent role in Russian sports. He is now a deputy prime minister and is in charge of the country’s World Cup preparations as chairman of the local organizing committee for the June tournament. The IOC commission didn’t directly accuse the Kremlin or Mutko of any wrongdoing for Sochi but found the sports ministry “has to bear the major part of the administrative responsibility” because it was responsible for overseeing anti-doping measures at the 2014 Olympics. It also found in the case of Mutko’s then deputy minister, Yuri Nagornykh, that “it is impossible to conclude that he was not aware of the system in place.”
FIFA said Tuesday the IOC ruling wouldn’t affect the World Cup, which begins in June.
“This decision has no impact on the preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup as we continue to work to deliver the best possible event,” soccer’s world governing body said in a statement which didn’t mention Mutko by name. FIFA added it was investigating evidence involving soccer raised by earlier World Anti-Doping Agency reports.
“When it comes to potential disciplinary or ethical matters concerning specific individuals, it will be up to the respective FIFA bodies to evaluate them. Please understand that any information on specific disciplinary or ethical matters will be communicated accordingly upon the respective committee’s indications.” Jim Walden, lawyer for whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, said he and his client had not been contacted by FIFA.
“You would think … they’d have better PR people to say, listen, if there’s evidence we should at least appear as though we’re interested in getting it,” Walden said during an interview at The Associated Press.
Asked which was more corrupt, the IOC or FIFA, Walden responded: “Which family is more deadly, the Gambinos or the Bonannos?”
Mutko has fiercely denied any wrongdoing by himself, Russian athletes or the Russian state _ sometimes leading to awkward moments for FIFA. On Friday, Mutko repeatedly launched into lengthy defenses of Russia’s record during a joint news conference at the Kremlin with FIFA president Gianni Infantino ahead of the World Cup draw.
Mutko insisted “there is no proof” of any wrongdoing in what he called a campaign to tarnish Russia’s sports achievements and paint it as “an axis of evil.” He twice apologized to Infantino for lengthy diversions defending a banned Russian gold medalist in the sliding sport of skeleton.
FIFA expelled Mutko from its overseeing chamber in Spring _ however that wasn’t credited to doping. Rather, a FIFA survey advisory group discovered his position in the Russian government added up to an irreconcilable situation. His long-lasting partner and kindred World Container coordinator Alexei Sorokin now possesses the seat. Mutko’s position, that Russia did nothing incorrectly, additionally has wide help in Russia. On the off chance that Russia goes to the Winter Olympics in February under the IOC states of a nonpartisan banner, its competitors are probably going to have solid help back home. Games columnist Maria Komandnaya, the co-moderator for Friday’s Reality Container draw close by previous Britain striker Gary Lineker, struck an enthusiastic note Tuesday. She demanded Russia could top the decoration table at February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang with or without its song of devotion and banner.
“Our competitors will win these Olympic Recreations,” she composed on Twitter. “Regardless of whether under an unbiased banner or some other.”
Walden’s firm speaks to Alejandro Burzaco, previous President of the advertising organization Torneos y Competencias. Burzaco affirmed as an administration witness in the continuous U.S. trial of three previous South American soccer league presidents on charges of racketeering trick, wire extortion connivance and tax evasion scheme. Asked whether Rodchenkov gave prove that the Russian doping case included wire exchanges that included U.S. banks, Walden said “it’s been openly detailed that there is an inward there is a household examination. I can’t generally remark on those subtle elements.”