Russian doping whistle-blower raises fears over Russia World Cup legitimacy

Vladimir Putin’s strong-arm tactics of suppressing opposition within and outside of Russia stretches to sport, as Rodchenkov’s evidence to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) shows. (AFP)
Updated 31 May 2018

Russian doping whistle-blower raises fears over Russia World Cup legitimacy

LONDON: Whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov has raised fears over the legitimacy of Russia’s World Cup team after revealing one unnamed player among their provisional squad is familiar to him from his time running the nation’s state-sponsored doping program.
Saudi Arabia kick-off the 2018 World Cup on June 14 with the hosts under a cloud of political and sporting controversy which threatens to spoil their party.
Vladimir Putin’s strong-arm tactics of suppressing opposition within and outside of Russia stretches to sport, as Rodchenkov’s evidence to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) led to the publishing of the McLaren Report in 2016 which revealed the country’s widespread doping across a number of sports.
As a result, Rodchenkov is under witness protection in the US under fear of his life, and spoke via Skype to the Sports, Politics and Integrity Conference in London on Thursday from a secret location and with his face obscured by a balaclava.
The former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory, which was responsible for covering up positive tests, most famously before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, knew of 34 footballers who tested positive for corticosteroids.
Rodchenkov said that former Sports Minister and head of the Russian Football Union Vitaly Mutko told him: “Football must be protected. Don’t touch football players. If you have any problems report to me immediately. There were 34 footballers who tested positive. These positives ‘disappeared’.
“There were 34 footballers listed in the doping control program, playing at junior, under-23, ladies and senior levels. It’s very important that they are still being investigated because we had initial tests but then the procedure was stopped and reported negative.
“I recognize only one name from the list for the national team.”
Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov is still to trim his 28-man squad to the final 23, which means the player familiar to Rodchenkov could be omitted but with just two weeks to go until the tournament, the uncertainty is perhaps the most concerning aspect.
Rodchenkov admits that doping in football pales in comparison to weightlifting and athletics and expects a “clean” World Cup with no positive tests because, “it will only be foreign doping control.”
But he also claimed that FIFA were far from thorough when examining evidence he presented to them in the wake of the McLaren Report. Last week FIFA ruled the 34 positive tests flagged had been re-tested and found to be clean by their lab in Lausanne.
Rodchenkov added: “I received a list of questions from FIFA, 60 of them.
“I didn’t have detailed information for some but I answered all of the questions. Seemingly FIFA were satisfied and there were no follow-up questions.”


Omani cricketer gets 7-year ban for attempted match fixing

Updated 24 February 2020

Omani cricketer gets 7-year ban for attempted match fixing

  • The ICC says all charges relate to T20 qualifiers held in the United Arab Emirates in 2019
  • ICC confirms Omani player has accepted four allegations made against him

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: An Omani cricketer has been banned for seven years after admitting to corruption charges relating to qualifiers for the men’s Twenty20 World Cup.
The International Cricket Council announced Monday that Yousuf Abdulrahim Al Balushi had accepted four charges of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code, including an attempt to solicit another player for match fixing, failing to report illegal match fixing approaches from three people and trying to obstruct an investigation by deleting evidence from his telephone.
The ICC said the charges all related to the T20 qualifiers held in the United Arab Emirates last year.
“This is a very serious offense where a player attempted but failed to get a teammate to engage in corrupt activity in high-profile games and this is reflected in the severity of the sentence,” Alex Marshall, the ICC“s general manager for integrity, said. “Without Mr. Balushi’s admission of guilt and full cooperation throughout our investigation, the ban could have been significantly longer.”
The maximum penalty under the code is a life ban from all involvement in cricket, including playing, coaching or officiating at any match.
An investigation found that Balushi, who was playing in the Oman domestic competition at the time, was initially asked by a contact he knew from an unsanctioned tournament in Bahrain in 2017 to “do some work together” and to set up contact with three Oman players.
He did not facilitate the contact in that case, but didn’t report the approach to cricket integrity officials.
He was later approached by two associates of the initial contact, and passed on a message to an Oman player. The player rejected the approach and immediately reported it to anti-corruption officials.
Oman was one of four teams that secured a place through qualifying for the first round of the men’s T20 World Cup in Australia starting in October. The top four teams in the first round will progress to a Super 12 stage, joining the top eight teams at the World Cup.