Vitaly Mutko denies covering up positive doping test of player from Russian Premier League
By Reuters Sport
Last Updated: 09/06/16 11:58am
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says allegations he helped cover up a top footballer's positive doping test were 'silly' and he and Russia were being smeared as payback for winning the right to host the 2018 World Cup.
Mutko, who is battling to end a doping scandal that has placed a question mark over Russian athletes' rights to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was responding to allegations against him made by German public broadcaster ARD/WDR.
The broadcaster, whose reports led to the suspension of Russia's track-and-field athletes, said an alleged internal sports ministry e-mail exchange discussing an FC Krasnodar footballer's failed test said the matter should be forwarded to 'VL'.
That, it said, referred to Vitaly Leontiyevich Mutko.
"Initials could be interpreted in a different way," Mutko was quoted as saying on Thursday by the TASS news agency. "How could I help to hide this? Destroy it myself? This is silly stuff, unconvincing."
One of the reasons for the doping scandal with Russian sportspeople is the desire to dredge for compromising information with regard to the 2018 World Cup.
After being suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) last year, Russia is attempting to convince sports authorities it is serious about rooting out cheats in time for the Rio Olympics in August.
The IAAF will decide whether Russia has done enough to have that ban overturned at a meeting in Vienna on June 17.
Mutko said his country's doping scandal was payback from those unhappy Russia had won the rights to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 following allegations it bribed officials from football's world governing body.
"One of the reasons for the doping scandal with Russian sportspeople is the desire to dredge for compromising information with regard to the 2018 World Cup," he was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.
"First, they tried through FIFA but didn't succeed," he said. "Now they are investigating the laundering of bribes. They are trying to get in from the other side."