The same party line that excluded Russia from participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics was again used to dampen Russia’s credibility and its team’s eligibility to compete in the tournament, which Russia will be hosting.
That line is that Russia cheats by doping up its players to give them an unfair edge over that of other nation’s teams in order to score victory for Russia, which would then be used as a part of Russia’s propaganda to show the world how great it is.
That’s the party line, anyhow. But this time it hasn’t worked. This time there’s no ‘whistleblower’, but a report that led to a probe that, like the Mueller probe which investigates alleged Russian ‘collusion’ with the Trump campaign, failed to turn up any evidence.
The probe didn’t find any evidence of doping, and the players, who were likely to participate in the World Cup competition, were exonerated.
The AFP reports:
FIFA has ended a doping investigation into Russian footballers named in the country’s provisional World Cup squad after finding “insufficient evidence” of any wrongdoing, it said on Tuesday.
World football’s governing body launched a probe into “possible anti-doping rule violations” by players “against whom a suspicion had been raised” following the publication of the McLaren report on mass doping in Russia.
The enquiry was part of a broader investigation into players likely to participate at the World Cup, the result of which was “that insufficient evidence was found to assert an anti-doping rule violation”, FIFA said in a statement.
FIFA added it had “informed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of its conclusions, and WADA in turn has agreed with FIFA’s decision to close the cases.”
The report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, produced at the request of WADA, revealed a “state-sponsored” doping system in Russia that reached its peak during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The bombshell revelations prompted the suspension of numerous Russian athletes with several stripped of medals, while the country was formally banned from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, where Russian competitors were only allowed to take part as ‘neutrals’.
Several Russian footballers were named in the McLaren report, although they were never publicly identified.
As part of the probe, FIFA said it carried out “an assessment of all information and evidence contained in the McLaren report, with the support of scientific and legal experts.”
FIFA also got in touch with McLaren “to obtain further details from him” and sent questions to Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian whistleblower who served as the former head of Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory.
Samples taken by FIFA and confederations which were stored in WADA-accredited laboratories of players listed in the McLaren report and “high-level” players were re-analysed for banned substances.
Samples seized by WADA from the Moscow laboratory were also retested.
“All results were negative,” FIFA said.
In addition, FIFA performed unannounced doping controls during the process of the investigation, with the Russian squad “one of the most tested teams” ahead of the tournament.
FIFA said it was also still working alongside WADA on an investigation into several players who will not be involved at the World Cup.
Like the doping allegations that hampered Russian participation in this year’s Olympic competition, the allegations, the resulting investigations, came up empty handed. However, unlike the allegations used at the Olympics, this was one was nipped in the bud prior to the competition, meaning that Russia will not be phased by it during the event, and should go on to compete, barring some other pretext being used to achieve a similar end as the doping allegation.