International soccer body FIFA’s ethics committee will “carefully analyze” an independent commission’s report on allegations of systemic doping among Russian track and field athletes. They will be searching for evidence of wrongdoing by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who is also a member of FIFA’s executive committee, the Guardian reported Monday. The inquiry will unfold amid FIFA’s own corruption scandal, which began last May with the arrests of nine current and former FIFA executive committee members on bribery charges.
The report, released Monday by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-commissioned independent panel, concluded Russian athletics officials and athletes conspired to use performance-enhancing drugs and attempted to cover up the scandal. The apparent involvement of the Russian sports ministry, which dispenses government funding and whose officials purportedly accepted bribes to overlook positive test results, led the panel to conclude the illicit doping was “state-sponsored,” the report said.
FIFA’s code of ethics forbids international soccer executives from participating in corrupt financial dealings and requires them to “show commitment to an ethical attitude,” the Guardian noted. Mutko, 56, has served as a member of FIFA’s executive committee since 2009. He’s also the chairman of the local organizing committee for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which was awarded to Russia under dubious circumstances. It’s unclear if FIFA’s examination of the doping report will lead to a full-fledged investigation into Mutko’s activities, or if the Russian sports official will face any discipline.
“We will carefully analyze the findings of the report,” a FIFA ethics committee spokesman told the Guardian.
Wada report into Russian athletics doping accuses sports minister Vitaly Mutko of being "aware" & "complicit." He's also a Fifa exco member.
— David Conn (@david_conn) November 9, 2015
The WADA-commissioned panel contended that Mutko’s position as Russia’s sports minister would have made him aware that Russian track and field athletes were doping. “It was impossible for him not to be aware of it,” Canadian attorney Dick Pound, who led the panel, said at a press conference Monday. “And if he’s aware of it, he’s complicit in it.”
WADA is calling for the Russian Athletics Federation to be declared “noncompliant” with world doping standards and banned from international competition until it demonstrates compliance. Any ban could force Russian track and field athletes to miss the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The independent panel recommended that the lab responsible for Russia’s anti-doping efforts should lose its accreditation. The International Association of Athletics Federations said it would “consider sanctions” against Russian athletics and gave officials until Friday to formally address the doping allegations.
Mutko spoke out against the WADA-commissioned report Monday, threatening to end government funding of Russia’s anti-doping efforts amid the allegations. “If we have to close the whole system, we would be happy to close it,” Mutko told Russian news agency Interfax, according to the Associated Press.
FIFA created a reform committee last summer after the arrests of several top current and former soccer executives as part of a multimillion-dollar bribery scandal. Longtime FIFA President Sepp Blatter was suspended for at least 90 days last month after Swiss authorities announced a criminal probe into allegations of “mismanagement” of FIFA’s finances.