February 24, 2018
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Russia's flag-bearer Alexander Zubkov leads his country's contingent during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 7, 2014. ― Reuters picRussia’s flag-bearer Alexander Zubkov leads his country’s contingent during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 7, 2014. ― Reuters picMOSCOW, Dec 6 ― A decision made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to bar the Russian national team from the 2018 Winter Olympics has no impact on the country’s preparations to host the 2018 Fifa World Cup, Russia’s TASS news agency reported, citing the press service of the world’s governing body of football.

“Fifa has taken note of the decision made by the IOC regarding the participation of Russian athletes at the upcoming Winter Olympics. This decision has no impact on the preparations for the 2018 Fifa World Cup as we continue to work to deliver the best possible event,” the Fifa said in a statement.

An IOC commission, led by Samuel Schmid, established that Russia allegedly employed a system of manipulations with doping samples collected from national athletes.

Based on the commission’s findings, the IOC announced its decision last night to suspend the Russian national team from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang over multiple doping abuse allegations.

The IOC, however, stated that doping-free athletes from Russia could go to the 2018 Olympic Games in the status of neutral athletes.

According to the statement from the Fifa, the international organisation continuously held intense doping tests in Russia, particularly during the 2017 Fifa Confederations Cup, and all results were negative.

“Fifa continues to take every measure at its competitions to ensure football remains free from doping,” the statement from Fifa said. “For the Fifa Confederations Cup 2017 played in Russia, every participating player was tested in unannounced controls and further systematic tests were performed at every match. All results were negative.”

“A similar protocol will be in place for next year’s Fifa World Cup in Russia, with the analysis of all doping samples to be carried out at WADA laboratories outside Russia,” the statement added.

The statement also said that Fifa had always been a staunch opponent of doping abuse in sports, but would never resort to sanctions based on “mere suspicion or limited facts.”

“As has already been communicated, when it comes to anti-doping measures, Fifa takes its responsibility very seriously and is investigating the allegations made in the ‘McLaren report,’ the statement said. In this process, Fifa is working in close collaboration with WADA and has been in contact with Prof McLaren.”

“Should there be enough evidence to demonstrate the violation of any anti-doping rules by any athlete, Fifa would impose the appropriate sanction,” according to the Fifa. “On the other hand, it should be stressed that sanctions cannot be imposed based on mere suspicion or limited facts.”

After successfully hosting the Fifa Confederations Cup this summer, Russia is now in full-swing preparations to host the 2018 Fifa World Cup. ― Bernama

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