NEWSLINK: “Russia’s performance in World Cup – and the country’s history – are raising doping suspicions” – Los Angeles Times/Kevin Baxter

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at

“Russia will meet Croatia in the quarterfinals Saturday in Sochi, where it will play in a stadium built to stage the opening and closing ceremonies of those now-discredited Winter Olympics. And though there is no evidence of any wrongdoing with the soccer team, its performance here — including a round of 16 win over Spain, the World Cup champion eight years ago — has raised eyebrows. * * * Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko … sports minister for the 2014 Sochi Olympics [] is a frequent visitor to Russia’s training sessions and celebrated the Spain win in the team’s dressing room. He was banned from the Olympics for life in December after the International Olympic Committee ruled his ministry didn’t do enough to stop organized doping. There’s no suggestion that Russia’s soccer team used the Olympic sample-swapping technique that the World Anti-Doping agency dubbed the “disappearing positive methodology.” But WADA found that positive tests were referred to sports ministry officials who would decide whether to “save” the player by covering up the test. This allegedly happened for at least eight men’s players, including defender Ruslan Kambolov, who was in Russia’s preliminary World Cup squad but not the final 23-man list. …”