Russia 2018 boss Alexey Sorokin promises tournament will be clean

12 May 2016 06:54

Russian World Cup boss Alexey Sorokin has denied that his nation is involved in state-sponsored doping and has promised the 2018 tournament will be clean.

Russia's athletics federation is currently suspended from global competition after a damning report into widespread doping by an independent commission appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency last year.

A decision on whether to reinstate Russian track and field stars in time for the Rio Olympics will be made next month but recent months have seen fresh allegations about a doping culture that extends to swimming and winter sports.

Speaking at an event in Mexico City to promote World Cup warm-up event the 2017 Confederations Cup, Sorokin said he was "certain" Russia's athletes will not be prevented from going to Rio.

"That will not happen because our authorities are taking every step in their power to overcome what is happening in the fight against doping," said Sorokin.

"It's true that it is a challenge we must face and combat together, but we have already taken steps to re-accredit our anti-doping agency, RUSADA, and our (Moscow) lab.

"We have opened our borders - anybody can come and do tests - and we are part of the world system.

"Despite what is sometimes said, (doping) is not national policy: we have stated our no-tolerance stance many times."

Sorokin's comments, however, follow a recent Sky News report that anti-doping officers are being obstructed by Russian officials, raising fears that athletes are being tipped off and samples contaminated.

With no working anti-doping lab and RUSADA suspended, UK Anti-Doping has been asked by WADA to oversee the testing regime in Russia, with Swedish company IDTM doing the actual testing.

Sorokin dismissed these concerns, saying he was concentrating on organising "a great World Cup that will welcome everybody with open arms".

When asked if there was an anti-doping contingency plan at the Confederations Cup next year, or the World Cup in 2018, if Russia's WADA lab was still closed, he said that was a matter for FIFA.

He also pointed out that Brazil was unable to do testing during the 2014 World Cup because its lab lost its accreditation, with samples sent to Switzerland.

Sorokin's measured responses were in contrast to those from former Russian international Evgeny Lovchev, who was sat beside him at the event at the Mexican FA's high-performance training centre.

"No Russian player has ever failed a test," the 67-year-old player-turned-pundit said angrily.

"Sure, some track and field athletes have failed tests but we are talking about football.

"What has doping got to do with football?"

Source: PA