An independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has reported "at least one" foreign footballer in the Russian League had a positive drugs test hidden as part of a system of state-dictated doping cover-ups overseen by the Russian Ministry of Sport.
Richard McLaren, appointed by WADA to lead the independent commission, revealed his findings at a media conference in Toronto on Monday and stated Russia had a system in place to cover up positive tests in "many sports".
While much of the revelations focus on irregularities during Russia's hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and track and field offences – Russia was banned from international competition by the IAAF last year – McLaren's report claims Vitaly Mutko, the country's Minister of Sport and president of the Russian Football Federation, was directly responsible for ordering a positive test given by a player in Russian domestic football to be hidden.
The report read: "In total violation of the WADA International Standard for Laboratories ('ISL') all analytical positives appearing on the first sample screen at the Moscow laboratory were reported up to the Deputy Minister after the athlete's name had been added to the information to be supplied.
"The order would come back from the Deputy Minister 'SAVE' or 'QUARANTINE'. If the order was a SAVE the laboratory personnel were required to report the sample negative in WADA's Anti-Doping Management System ('ADAMS')."
In the section relating to a foreign footballer testing positive, the report added: "The IP [McLaren] is aware of at least one foreign footballer playing in the Russian League had that benefit of a SAVE order.
"That SAVE decision was made by Minister Mutko and not Deputy Minister Nagornykh. Email evidence available to the IP shows that the SAVE decision for the football players was the final decision of 'VL'."
"VL is the first name and patronymic name initials of the Minister of Sport, Vitaly Leontiyevich Mutko, who is also the President of the Russian Football Federation."
Mutko was an influential figure in Russia securing the hosting rights to the 2018 World Cup and came in for criticism during Euro 2016, when he played down violent clashes involving Russia supporters before and after his nation's 1-1 draw with England in Marseille.
WADA later released a statement containing a series of recommendations, one of which was that "the FIFA Ethics Committee looks into allegations concerning football and the role played by a member of its Executive Committee, Minister Vitaly Mutko."
WADA president Sir Craig Reedie went further, suggesting Mutko should relinquish his position as part of a clean-up of Russian sport.
He said: "The McLaren Report confirms that, at a minimum, RUSADA’s return to compliance cannot be considered until all persons from the Russian Ministry of Sport and other Government Departments and Agencies that are implicated by the Report, including RUSADA, are dismissed from their roles."
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