Every member of Russia's 2014 World Cup football team is under investigation for doping, British newspaper the Mail on Sunday has reported. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko has vehemently rejected the claims.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko has denied allegations that every member of the country's football squad had been involved in a state-sponsored doping program.
British newspaper the Mail on Sunday reported that football's governing body FIFA was investigating whether Russian players used banned performance-enhancing drugs during the 2014 World Cup.
Four of those accused are also part of the Russia squad at the Confederations Cup, which is underway in Russia, plus there are another 11 current professional players that the newspaper reports are on a list of athletes being investigated by doping chiefs.
"There has never been and will never be doping [in our national team]," Mutko, who in charge of sport matters in the country, told state news agency TASS.
"Our national team is constantly checked. There is doping control at every match."
"Don't pay attention to this, they have been writing about us negatively since 2010," Mutko added.
Russia is currently hosting the Confederations Cup, a test run for next year's more prestigious World Cup, which it will also host. The home team exited in the group stage after a loss to Mexico on Saturday.
A report by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren in December said more than 1,000 Russian athletes competing in summer, winter and paralympic sport were involved in or benefited from an institutional conspiracy to conceal positive doping tests.
FIFA released a statement on the matter, confirming that investigations into the fallout from the McLaren report are still underway.
"FIFA has simply confirmed that, in close collaboration with WADA, it is still investigating the allegations involving football players in the so-called McLaren report," said FIFA in an emailed statement to Reuters.
FIFA said it had not referred to any particular players and "cannot comment on the status of ongoing investigations." It said it wanted investigations to be completed quickly and that it could not provide further details until then.
"All players participating in the 2014 World Cup - including all members of the Russian squad - underwent pre-competition and post-match tests, all of which resulted negative," it added.
"FIFA was in charge of the tests and sent all samples to be analysed by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Lausanne."
mds/rd (AP, Reuters, dpa)