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FIFA says still waiting for info on Russian doping cases

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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) FIFA is still waiting for details on players implicated in an investigation of doping in Russian soccer, secretary general Fatma Samoura said on Thursday.

WADA investigator Richard McLaren published hundreds of pages of documents in December alleging widespread drug use and cover-ups in Russian sports. Some cases appear to involve the Russia Under-17 and Under-21 soccer teams.

“We are waiting for proof and also names of football players concerned,” Samoura said during a visit to Russia, adding that FIFA wants “WADA or other stakeholders” to send the names.

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Other major sports federations, particularly in winter sports, have started disciplinary proceedings after WADA supplied unredacted files on possible dopers. Athletes’ identities were concealed with code numbers in the public version of McLaren’s report.

However, WADA spokesman Ben Nichols said FIFA received names and summaries of evidence “a couple of days after” the McLaren report was published in December.

“What they might be referring to is that they’re awaiting updated translations” of documents originally written in Russian, Nichols said.

Asked to clarify the issue, FIFA didn’t explain the apparent contradiction in Samoura’s and WADA’s comments, saying only that it was “gathering further information” and the issue was not closed.

Emails released in December alongside McLaren’s report state there were five suspicious samples in the Russia U17 and U21 teams in 2013 and 2014 for which no action was taken, plus two cases in the Russian league.

WADA previously said building disciplinary cases against individual Russians was difficult because the Moscow laboratory destroyed more than 1,000 samples. That means only documentary records – primarily leaked emails between Russian laboratory and sports officials – remain for some cases identified in McLaren’s report.

Samoura dismissed suggestions the Russian doping scandals could tarnish the 2018 World Cup and the 2017 Confederations Cup.

“The doping has nothing to do with the two events,” Samoura said.

“FIFA takes very seriously every aspect that can negatively impact the holding of events worldwide. Whether we are talking about doping, security and safety or discrimination, xenophobia, we make sure that bad behaviors are not affecting our competition.”

Hooliganism is also “something that we are addressing” in the buildup to the World Cup, Samoura said. That follows violent clashes between England and Russia fans in Marseille during last year’s European Championship, and an attack by Russian fans on English supporters in the stadium itself.

World Cup organizing committee CEO Alexei Sorokin said tight security and a database of information on ticket-holders would prevent disturbances and keep troublemakers away from stadiums.

“There may be occasional incidents (of hooliganism) but it’s not a trend, it doesn’t represent a tendency which is characteristic of our society,” Sorokin said. “We are making everything possible for the fans to feel comfortable and safe in our country.”

FIFA to conduct random doping test for each World Cup player; could have in-match water breaks

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If you’re playing in the World Cup, you’re going to get drug tested.

That’s the message from FIFA chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak to participants in this summer’s tournament in Brazil, and he says players could be tested as soon as the upcoming early March friendlies.

“We will test all teams and all players between the first of March and the kick off, unannounced, at least once,” Dvorak said.

“From now on every player competing in the FIFA World Cup Brazil could be tested at least once, at any time, in any part of the world.”

FIFA has a massive crew for the fight against doping, so it’s no surprise to see them take such a vocal stance and thorough approach to testing.

Dvorak also said that FIFA is not overly-concerned with the potential for extreme heat during the Brazil tournament. He says officials will decide whether in-game water breaks will be needed before each individual match kicks off.

“We don’t think the conditions in Brazil will be as difficult as people are saying,” he said. “We can introduce extra water breaks and provide players with cold towels where necessary, but that’s a medical decision that will be judged on a case by case basis, before each game, by our team of health professionals.”

Two players fail drug test in latest Mexican trouble with widespread clenbuterol contamination

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After the first weekend of games in Liga Bancomer MX, two players tested positive for clenbuterol. Unfortunately for the Mexican federation, it has a history with this substance, as five players tested positive for it during the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Those players were absolved after their positive tests were deemed to have been caused by consuming contaminated meat. Likewise, the two players who tested positive last weekend were cleared, and the federation will not publicly name them.

Goal.com reported the list of players tested:

As has widely been reported by Mexican press, the teams that were tested in the first week of matches were Cruz Azul, Morelia, Queretaro and Monterrey. Mexico international Jesus Corona and Manuel Marin were tested from Cruz Azul; Fernando Silva and Ferando Zarate from Morelia; Omar Arellano and Luis Madrigal from Monterrey, as well as Amaury Escoto and Marco Jiménez from Queretaro.

The site’s Eric Gómez went further in revealing the possible identities of the players:

Corona has since been named in Mexico’s squad to face the Ivory Coast in East Rutherford, N.J.

Clenbuterol is used to treat breathing disorders, and it causes an increase in aerobic ability and allows oxygen to be distributed more efficiently. Asthma patients’ inhalers are frequently some form of clenbuterol.

The World Anti-Doping Agency acquitted the Mexican players during the Gold Cup because the substance is found in abundance in Mexican meat.

“WADA has subsequently received compelling evidence … that indicates a serious health problem in Mexico with regards to meat contaminated with clenbuterol,” the organization said then. “This is a public health issue that is now being addressed urgently by the Mexican government.”

In addition, out of 208 urine samples taken at the 2011 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Mexico, 109 tested positive for the substance.

FIFA medical officer Jiri Dvorak, well aware of the cause, told reporters at the time: “It is not a problem of doping, but a problem of public health.”

FIFA provisionally bans Jamaican international for doping

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Here’s what any soccer federation, especially one still involved in the serious and potentially lucrative World Cup qualifying business, wants to hear attached to one of its players: “…an adverse analytical finding on his urine sample.”

Nope, you don’t want any of that. And yet here is Jamaica, dealing with this very issue.

FIFA said today that a Jamaica international, who has yet to be identified but had already been implicated, has been provisionally banned for 30 days after drug testing at a World Cup qualifier against Honduras back in June.

According to this Reuters report, a team official faces the same 30-day provisional ban connected to events around the June 11 contest. Jamaica lost 2-0 at Honduras.

The second person being involved here does matter. Generally, if multiple players are involved or, as in this case, a team official, FIFA could potentially follow up with targeted testing going forward. There could be further trouble if the implicated the team officials is found to have administered the banned substance.

None of this is likely to affect the World Cup fortunes of the United States or Mexico. Jamaica is bottom of the six-team group, all but mathematically eliminated. Although the Reggae Boyz could possibly get it together enough to nick fourth place, they can scarcely threaten top-of-the-table United States.

Courtesy of FIFA’s official site, here are the current final-round regional World Cup qualifying standings, following six of 10 rounds:

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