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FIFA investigating Russian footballers amid widespread doping claims

REUTERS/John Sibley

FIFA admits that "it is still investigating the allegations" that several footballers were involved in a Russian state-sponsored doping scheme.

According to a report from the BBC, 1,000 athletes from no fewer than 30 sports have allegedly had samples covered up between 2011 and 2015.

Russia's entire 23-man squad at the 2014 World Cup was tested for possible drug offences, and were among 34 Russian footballers investigated by FIFA, five of whom are in Stanislav Cherchesov's team for the Confederations Cup.

FIFA says none of the players tested returned a positive test.

The allegations stem from the publication of the McLaren reports, the second of which was released in December 2016 by Canadian sports lawyer Dr. Richard McLaren.

"FIFA has simply confirmed that, in close collaboration with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), it is still investigating the allegations involving football players in the so-called McLaren report," a FIFA spokesman said.

"However, FIFA did not refer to any particular players, since it cannot comment on the status of ongoing investigations."

With the Confederations Cup in Russia providing a dress rehearsal for the World Cup a year from now, FIFA is again keeping itself busy with drug testing.

"As far as the FIFA Confederations Cup is concerned, every participating player has been tested through blood and urine in unannounced controls," a statement from FIFA added.

"Both the results of the unannounced and the post-match tests have been negative so far."

In light of McLaren's allegations of a state-sponsored doping program, Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko has denied all claims, saying, "There have never been and will never be any problems with doping in our football - our team are permanently being tested, they undergo doping tests after every match."

Talk of widespread doping in Russia is nothing new, though this is the first time that footballers have been included in investigations. Russia was barred from having athletes compete in track and field during the 2016 Summer Olympics, and had a total of 112 competitors banned for the quadrennial games.

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