FIFA has intensified the investigation into doping in Russian football, disclosing on Monday it has finally sought details from the chemist who exposed the scale of state-sponsored cheating across sports.
The Associated Press reported last month that Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow and Sochi lab director, was still awaiting contact from FIFA to pursue intelligence on how soccer was tainted by the doping conspiracy.
Evidence and cooperation from Rodchenkov led to 34 suspicious football cases being identified in a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation by Richard McLaren, including players from Russia’s World Cup squad in 2014.
FIFA also has access to additional evidence from a database from Rodchenkov’s laboratory that could help to prosecute cases.
“After conducting an initial review of the new data from the Moscow laboratory provided recently by WADA, FIFA has now submitted a list of specific questions to the WADA designated lawyer for him to forward them to Dr. Rodchenkov,” the governing body said in a statement to the AP.
McLaren has already provided “information concerning football given to him by Dr. Rodchenkov,” FIFA added.
Rodchenkov’s New York-based lawyer, Jim Walden, said the Laboratory Information Management System data for the Russia lab has “thousands and thousands and thousands of files in a secret portion of the server that show the disappearing positives which also benefited Russian soccer players.”
Although Rodchenkov oversaw the destruction of about 8,000 doping controls in 2014 when the scheme was exposed, WADA managed to retrieve 3,000 samples, including 154 from soccer players. Those samples are yet to be subject to forensic analysis to detect manipulation of the samples, including scratch marks which could prove that bottles were forced open and tainted urine swapped out.
“FIFA has requested that a forensic analysis be conducted on a concrete number of samples (selected following the criteria set by WADA) and asked to be given priority,” FIFA said. “WADA informed FIFA that the order of priority will be made by the designated expert team. We haven’t heard from the expert team yet.”
FIFA denied reports that it is looking to appoint an investigator to look into Russian doping but said its anti-doping unit is being supported by external experts.