GENEVA: Vitaly Mutko, most powerful man in Russian sport, has come under heavy fire from Dick Pound of the World Anti-Doping Agency writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Pound was presenting a coruscating report into allegations of systemic doping in Russian athletics and Mutko was criticised directly over what he must have known about the cheating which prompted the investigation.

Mutko, a great survivor as a long-time associate of President Vladimir Putin, is Russia’s Sports Minister, president of the Russian Football Union, head of the 2018 World Cup local organising committee and a member of the executive committee of embattled world football federation FIFA.

Wielding such wide-reaching power enabled Pound to concluded that Mutko must have been aware of the state-sponsored system which worked to protect Russian doping techniques rather than counter them.

Mutko’s role in the doping scandal is expected to be reviewed by the FIFA ethics committee.

Pound said: “You can’t fix the Minister on any documentary basis with knowledge but the extent of what was going on was so prevalent that, in our conclusion, it was not possible for him to be unaware of it. So then he was complicit.

“That’s our inference from all of the evidence that we had a chance to examine.”

Mutko was president of the Russian bid to win host rights to the 2018 World Cup while also being a member of the FIFA exco which took part in the scandal-hit vote to award the 2018 finals to Russia and 2022 to Qatar.

Later, when FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia launched an inquiry into the bid scandals, the Russians responded that access to their documentation was impossible because the leased computers had been returned and wiped.

Echoes of that excuse were raised by Pound’s description of how the Russian dope-test laboratory destroyed 1,417 samples on learning that WADA’s investigators were on their way to Moscow.

Pound cautioned both athletics and football and all of world sport about the damage done by the Russians to the credibility of competitive sport.

Reviewing the signal his report sent to both athletics and football, the Canadian said: “These are are two of the most important sports in the world and the difficulty for all of us is it doesn’t stop there.

“Public opinion will move towards a view that all sport is corrupt. If you can’t believe results out on the field of play then it’s a serious credibility problem for those sports and other sports as well.

“I hope this will cause all sports to look at their governance and their application of doping control rules because their very existence may be at risk.”

Pound said he had met Mutko in September to offer him a cautionary warning of the contents of the report which claimed that the Russian coaches were “out of control” and considered the role of the national anti-doping organisation as being to “protect their athletes rather than make sure that they were doping-free.”