Anti-Doping Critics Say FIFA Is Stalling Its Doping Inquiry As World Cup Nears
With the Russia World Cup six months away, leaders of the anti-doping movement are criticizing FIFA "over its failure to pursue more aggressively" whether Russian authorities covered up positive doping tests belonging to the country’s top football players, according to Tariq Panja of the N.Y. TIMES. U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart said Tuesday that FIFA’s apparent inaction was "exasperating." WADA President Craig Reedie said that he "expected FIFA to pursue any allegations of corruption and act decisively." Reedie: "We provided them with all the information we had at the time and told them they should be responsible for getting on with results management." At issue is whether FIFA has made "every effort" to contact Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian whistleblower and former director of the Moscow laboratory for drug testing whose testimony "unmasked a vast doping program that corrupted global sports across several Olympics," with evidence extending from '11-15. FIFA said that it initially tried to contact Rodchenkov last year through WADA but was told "he was not available." In a statement Tuesday, FIFA said it was "awaiting the reanalysis of the samples of Russian athletes who were implicated by a trove of data obtained from Moscow in November before trying to re-establish contact with Rodchenkov." James Walden, a lawyer for Rodchenkov, said that FIFA officials had "never gotten in touch with him." Tygart said that was "unacceptable." He said, "Frankly, it's exasperating. Clean athletes and the public deserve to have the impact of Russian doping on football, if any, resolved immediately" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/3).
FREE TO GIVE EVIDENCE: The AFP reported WADA said that Rodchenkov, who said that he has information on doping in Russian football, is "now free from legal restraints and can give evidence to FIFA." A WADA spokesperson said, "The fact is that Dr. Rodchenkov has only recently become available to testify in legal proceedings being undertaken by IFs (international federations), which he was unable to do previously due to restrictions put in place by U.S. law enforcement as a result of an ongoing investigation in the United States" (AFP, 1/2).