ZURICH: FIFA has undertaken preliminary steps in investigating Russian doping in football by submitting a series of questions to Jim Walden, the United States lawyer of Grigory Rodchenkov writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Only recently Walden had described the world football federation as an “ostrich” for failing to make contact over the whistleblower’s knowledge gained from his time as head of the Moscow testing laboratory.

Grigory Rodchenkov: questions to answer

FIFA sources insisted that an initial approach was ignored and that now, in any case, it had been waiting in a queue of sports while the World Anti-Doping Agency prioritised investigations into potential competitors at next year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

Now FIFA has explained its latest steps concerning allegations by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, who conducted a damning report into Russian sports doping for the World Anti-Doping Agency.

A statement said: “After conducting an initial review of the new data from the Moscow laboratory provided recently by WADA, FIFA has now submitted a list of specific questions to the WADA designated lawyer for him to forward them to Dr Rodchenkov,”

Players who featured Russia’s 23-man squad at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil had been identified originally by McLaren, on the basis of the evidence provided by Rodchenkov about his work in Moscow.

Rodchenkov’s immediate date is to testify at the appeal hearings of up to 42 banned Russian athletes at the Court of Arbitration for Sport which will provide the first opportunity for any Russian to challenge his revelatory statements about the doping conspiracy scandal.

Some 42 Russian competitors are challenging Olympic disqualifications imposed by the disciplinary commission of the International Olympic Committee on the basis of Rodchenkov’s statements about their cheating during the Sochi Winter Games of 2014.

The hearings begin on on January 22 and sport’s supreme court has promised decisions on or before January 31, certainly ahead of next month’s Winter Games in PyeongChang.

Rodchenkov, who will presumably be available via video link, was not only head of the anti-doping laboratory in Moscow but responsible for its Sochi operation during the 2014 Games.