KEIR RADNEDGE in KAZAN: Richard McLaren, the Canadian law professor who lifted the lid on Russian sport’s dope-cheat system, has said that FIFA should appoint its own special investigator.
McLaren, whose report for the World Anti-Doping Agency led to Russia’s track and field athletes being barred from last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, was responding to questions by German ARD television reporter Hajo Seppelt.
Russian football directors have rejected suggestions of the sport being implicated into an institutionalised doping cover-up system.
At the weekend Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, head of the 2018 World Cup organising committee, claimed reports in the UK media were merely reflecting bitterness at Russia having beaten England to land host rights.
Not only the UK media, now.
Last November McLaren’s orginal report to WADA indicated at least 30 suspect samples from players in Russian football. Now he told ARD he could raise the suspected number by five times.
McLaren said: “There are 155 [football] samples awaiting analysis which were seized by WADA. We also reported those to FIFA.”
His strong suspicion is that these urine samples were either manipulated to prevent positive test results or that doping substances will be found in them.
McLaren said he had concluded a separate cover-up system existed for Russian footballers. He added: “That gives rise to the suspicion that there is a bank of clean samples and that it’s been used with respect to footballers.”
He found supporting evidence in email exchanges between unknown Russian officials. In June 2015 one reported a sample as “significantly above the threshold.”
Another reported dexamethasone, a banned stimulant, as having shown up in the urine sample No No 3878295 of a Russian premier league footballer.
Other documents indicated that the sample needed to be switched under a system through which urine tainted with doping substances were exchanged or converted turned into clean urine.
McLaren said: “We have some information [in this case] where there is reference to trying to find a sample which would be suitable possibly for swapping.”
He added: “Either there’s been tampering with the [sample bottle] caps, so that contents could have been changed or the contents haven’t been changed but there may be prohibited substances in there.”
ARD claims that sample 387829 was “from one of the current national football players.” McLaren considered there was no sufficient evidence for FIFA to appoint a special investigator.
ARD reported an interview with former Russian international Vladyslav Vashchuk who played for Moscow Spartak in 2003 when club-mate Yegor Titov was banned after failing a dope test following a European Championships qualifier against Wales.
Vashchuk said: “Soon after that samples were taken from the entire Spartak team and they all tested positive.” He remembered having taken “some small pills.” After the positive tests the players attended the Russian cosmonaut training centre where their blood was “purified”.