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Doping cloud hangs over Russia World Cup amidst “insufficient” testing

Drug testing at the World Cup in Russia has been slammed as “clearly insufficient”, as pressure mounts on football’s governing body to take greater action to preserve the integrity of its showpiece event.

FIFA’s current doping control policy dictates that only two players from each team will be tested at random after each World Cup game.

Former head of Australia’s sports anti-doping authority ASADA, Richard Ings, says testing only four players after each match is not enough.

“FIFA talks a big talk. They trot out lots of big numbers. But when you dig into the [anti-doping] program, it’s really very ineffective given the amount of money that’s available in international football,” Mr Ings told Macquarie Sports Radio’s Cam Reddin.

Concerns around doping in Russian sport have grown since the release of the McLaren report in 2016, which detailed allegations of doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The report claimed that more than 1,000 Russian athletes across more than 30 sports benefited from state-sanctioned, state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015. Among those athletes were 11 Russian footballers.

Revelations from the McLaren report resulted in the International Olympic Committee banning Russia from this year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, although more than a hundred Russian athletes were allowed to compete as neutrals, so long as they passed independent testing.

Ings, who served as CEO of ASADA from 2005-2010, says a failure of governance and lack of proper testing procedures are to blame for the cloud of doping that hangs over this year’s World Cup.

“The problem with anti-doping is you’ve to test the right player, on the right day, at the right time, with the right lab test to get a positive [test]. Two at random is just not going to do it,” Mr Ings said.

After nearly two years of investigation following the release of the McLaren report, Russia’s World Cup squad was declared free of doping by FIFA last month. Just days later, the former head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory in Moscow-turned-whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov claimed one of the players in Russia’s World Cup squad has had positive tests “disappear” in the past.

“We can never be sure that there will be a level playing field at this World Cup, as we can never be sure there will be a level playing field in pretty much any sporting competition that we see,” Mr Ings said.

“The first step to overcoming the deficiencies that Russian sport and Russian anti-doping have had in the past is to acknowledge the failures,” he said. “In Russia, to this point in time, that really hasn’t happened”.

Click below to hear the full interview:

Cam Reddin