MOSCOW: FIFA’s ethics committee has reportedly launched an initial inquiry into a complaint by the Russian football federation about comments about the ongoing doping controversy by Norway FA president Terje Svendsen writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The positive response from the world federation’s ethics body has been stated by the RFU in a statement to the TASS news agency though the committee itself never comments on such matters. 

Three weeks ago Svendsen told local media that he wanted FIFA to step up the pace of its investigations into allegations of doping in Russian football and, if necessary, suspend it from international competition.

Speaking out . . . Terje Svensen

Svendsen stopped just short of proposing action which would affect the country’s hosting of the World Cup finals.

He said: “If football in Russia has been part of a government-controlled doping system then exclusion should be considered in the same way as for other sports. But football is a team game so it is crucial to understand the exact extent in which national team players were involved or not.”

Svendsen’s comments showed that patience among a number of national associations is running out and claimed that all the Nordic nations, including World Cup finalists Sweden and Denmark, shared his concerns.

He said: “On this kind of political question there is good cooperation between the Nordic countries. How we will specifically challenge FIFA is an issue we will discuss when we meet.

“The [latest] claims about Russian doping emerged this week so we have not been able to talk about it yet but we would expect the Nordic countries to be listened to.

“It has previously been unclear to what extent Russian football has been involved [in the doping scandal] . . . Now we need to have facts on the table: how many players have been involved and how much they have been involved?”

Svendsen added: “If it is the case that football is involved in the government-funded doping regime, it is of course very serious.” He said that FIFA would  be “driven” to reveal what it knew.

McLaren Report

Concern over football’s involvement in an institutionalised doping system in Russian sport was prompted by references implicating the game in a 2016 report to the World Anti-Doping Agency by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren.

Further reports, based in part in information supplied by former Moscow laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov, suggested that 34 Russian national team players had been compromised including all members of the 23-strong squad at the 2014 World Cup in Russia.

The Sports Ministry and Russian Football Union have denied the allegations which are being reviewed by FIFA.

However concerns have been raised that the world football federation has been dragging its feet and lacks the will to press its inquiries until after the World Cup finals in June and July.

FIFA has said it was waiting in line while anti-doping investigators prioritised assessment of likely competitors at next month’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

Last month the RFU published the names of 11 players being investigated by FIFA over doping claims: Roman Shishkin (then Moscow Lokomotiv), Vladimir Gabulov (Anji), Petru Nemov (Wings of the Soviets), Bulgarians Blagoi Georgiev (Terek), Sergei Chepchugov, Mario Fernandez, Japanese Keisuke Honda, Sergei Ignashevich (all CSKA Moscow), Oles Mashina, Daria Meshcheryakova (both national youth team) and Vladimir Obukhov (juniors).