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Doping not a big problem in the sport, says Infantino

Moscow (AFP) – FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday sought to distance football from any suspicions of the widespread doping in other sports that has cast a cloud over World Cup hosts Russia.

Russia have been stripped of a third of the medals they won as hosts of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and last week a ban on the country taking part in international athletics was upheld by the sport’s governing body the IAAF.

Next Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee will meet to decide whether to ban Russia from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, over allegations that it ran a state-sponsored doping programme for years.

But Infantino claimed that the level of testing in football is sufficient to show that the game is largely clean.

“I don’t think there are many other international sports organisations who are doing as many anti-doping tests as football is doing, with FIFA, UEFA or national associations, in and out of competition, blood, urine, biological passports,” Infantino said during a press conference in the Kremlin in Moscow ahead of the 2018 World Cup draw.

“Professional players in top teams play 50 or 60 matches every year. They are tested, I don’t know how many times every year.

“If you would have a serious doping issue in football this would be known by now, whether in Russia or any other country of the world.”

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who is also in charge of the World Cup organising committee, has been implicated in the doping allegations.

That led to a question to Infantino asking how Mutko could feasibly keep his World Cup position if the IOC decision were to go against Russia.

“As far as I and FIFA are concerned, the answer is simple, it will have no impact,” said Infantino with Mutko sitting alongside him.

“I don’t, and FIFA doesn’t, participate in any speculation about any situation.”

Insisting that the sport’s world governing body will come down hard on anyone found to be in breach of anti-doping rules, he added: “So far all the tests we have conducted — be it at the World Cup in 2014, at the Confederation Cup, the Euros, in club competitions — have been negative.

“And these tests are not carried out in Russia. All the tests have been carried out outside Russia, by non Russians.

“It will be the case in future too, and if it turns out anyone has committed a rule violation, or doped, then there will be sanctions.”

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