KEIR RADNEDGE in MARSEILLE: Russian football union officials appear to have accepted that their players are coming up close scrutiny from UEFA in terms of doping control.

According to the TASS news agency, UEFA’s anti-doping head Marc Vuyamoz said that it had been impossible for the European federation to overlook the crisis which has put Russian track and field athletes at risk of missing the Olympics in Rio in August.

He said: “Of course, we are aware of the problems that Russia has had over doping issue. The issue has made headlines around the world. Of course, we will pay special attention to the Russian team.”

Vuyamoz said UEFA had been liaising closely with United Kingdom Anti Doping which has been working with the Russians sports establishment.

UEFA undertook 1,278 doping tests ahead of the Euro 2016 with all squads’ players being tested twice. In addition 10 Russian players were singled out for testing at he team’s pre-finals training camp in Switzerland.

Earlier in the week Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko – who also heads the Russian football union – denied suggestions that he had been involved in covering up a positive dope test of player from Russian premier league club Krasnodar.

Mutko, who has been in the eye of the Russian sports doping storm, was responding to allegations in the latest documentary aired by German television channel ARD.

It had claimed that an internal sports ministry e-mail exchange discussing a player’s failed test said the matter should be forwarded to ‘VL’. That, it said, referred to Vitaly Leontiyevich Mutko.

Mutko refuted the claim, saying: “Initials can be interpreted in different ways. How could I help to hide this? Destroy it myself? This is silly stuff, unconvincing.”

He said that much of the heat generated around the Russian doping issue – and attempts to link it to football – was due to foreign anger that host rights to the 2018 World Cup finals had been awarded to Russia.

Mutko, as reported by the RIA agency, said: “One of the reasons for the doping scandal concerning Russian sportspeople is a desire to dredge up compromising information with regard to the 2018 World Cup.

“First, they tried [to get at us] through FIFA but didn’t succeed in investigating money-laundering and bribes. Now they are trying to get in from another side.”

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