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Russian doping whistleblower free to pass evidence to FIFA

Paris (AFP) – Whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, who says he has information on doping in Russian football, is now free from legal restraints and can give evidence to FIFA, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) told AFP on Tuesday.

“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 US law enforcement as a result of an ongoing investigation in the United States,” a WADA spokeswoman explained.

Rodchenkov was the head of the Moscow anti-doping lab for 10 years until 2015 when he fled to the United States and exposed the Russian system of institutionalised doping.

His revelations unleashed a scandal which resulted in many Russian athletes being banned from the Rio Olympics in 2016 and the exclusion of the Russian team from the Winter Games in Pyeongchang in February.

Rodchenkov’s lawyer had reproached football’s governing body FIFA for not getting in touch with his client, telling the Associated Press that Rodchenkov had “information on Russian footballers protected by the system of state doping.”

FIFA said it had attempted to contact Rodchenkov through WADA in November but had been told he could not talk.

“Once Dr. Rodchenkov became available to testify, WADA put a process in place for IFs to make requests for him to testify in proceedings taken in cases against individual athletes,” the WADA spokeswoman said. 

With the World Cup in Russia approaching, FIFA and WADA are awaiting the re-testing of doping samples, scheduled to begin in mid-January.

FIFA has always said that all the tests it has conducted so far have proved negative. 

“If there were a serious problem of doping in football, whether in Russia or in any other country in the world, we would have known,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on December 1.

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