MOSCOW: Vitaly Mutko has reaped his reward for keeping Russia afloat in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by being promoted to Deputy Prime Minister, overseeing sport, tourism and youth policies.
Mutko, one of the greatest multi-taskers in international sports politics, is already a member of the governing council of world and European federations FIFA and UEFA as well head of the 2018 World Cup local organising committee and president of the Russian Footbal Union.
Russia competed at the Rio Games – with the notable exceptions of athletics and weightlifting – despite the scandal over allegations by reports submitted to the World Anti-Doping Agency alleging a state-sponsored system.
News agency Tass said President Vladimir Putin had approved a proposal by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev even though Mutko was accused by WADA investigator Richard McLaren of ordering the cover-up of a failed drug test by a foreign football player.
The McLaren report confirmed claims widespread doping across Russian summer and winter sports was tied to the government ministry headed by Mutko.
Mutko personally intervened to cover up a doping case of “at least one foreign (soccer player) in the Russian League,” according to email evidence obtained by the inquiry. The report alleged an additional 11 positive tests of Russian football players were made to disappear from late 2011 to 2015.
The International Olympic Committee also denied him accreditation to the 2016 summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro while anti-doping adviser, Nataliya Zhelanova, and one of his deputies at the sports ministry, Yuri Nagornykh, have been suspended from their positions after McLaren accused them of helping to orchestrate cover-ups of hundreds of drug tests.
The Sports Minister post is likely to fall to Mutko’s deputy, Pavel Kolobkov.