GENEVA (AP) — The fallout of Russia's state-backed cheating at the Sochi Olympics could add pressure on Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who also is its top official at FIFA and head of the local organizing committee for the 2018 World Cup.
His status was unclear Monday after Russian President Vladimir Putin said all officials directly implicated in a World Anti-Doping Agency inquiry report will be suspended.
The alleged conspiracy to ensure doped Russian athletes helped their nation win the most medals at the 2014 Winter Games could lead to Mutko being removed from the next big sports showcase in Russia, the World Cup.
The WADA inquiry published Monday confirmed claims widespread doping across Russian summer and winter sports was tied to the government ministry headed by Mutko.
Mutko personally intervened to cover up a doping case of "at least one foreign (soccer player) in the Russian League," according to email evidence obtained by the inquiry, led by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.
The report alleged an additional 11 positive tests of Russian soccer players were made to disappear in the state-sponsored doping program from late 2011 to 2015.
WADA's executive board called on FIFA's independent ethics court to act against Mutko, who has been a member of the scandal-scarred soccer body's ruling panel since 2009.
Among seven key demands, WADA leaders urged: "The FIFA ethics committee to look into allegations concerning football (soccer) and the role played by a member of its executive committee, Minister Vitaly Mutko."
FIFA made no mention of Mutko in its own statement about the McLaren report and said it will ask WADA to share information about alleged cover-ups of doping in Russian soccer. FIFA said it will "take the appropriate next steps" based on feedback it gets.
The Union of European Football of Associations, whose member federations have twice elected Mutko to four-year terms representing UEFA at FIFA, did not respond to a request for comment.
Mutko is due to stand for re-election to his FIFA post in March and would be required to pass an integrity check.
It was "inconceivable that Minister Mutko was not aware of the doping cover-up scheme," the report said, citing evidence provided to the WADA inquiry from Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow's testing laboratory.
McLaren said he did not try to speak with Mutko for this report.
A previous Mutko interview — conducted last September in Zurich for an earlier WADA report of doping cover-ups and corruption in Russian track and field — was "singularly unhelpful," McLaren said Monday.
Mutko's position has seemed vulnerable after Russia's 11th-place finish in the medals standings at the 2010 Olympics.
"However, the real catalyst to develop the Sochi scheme was the abysmal performance of the Russian delegation at the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010," the WADA report said Monday.
Later in 2010, Mutko was revealed in a government audit to have charged expenses of $4,500 to Russian taxpayers for 97 breakfasts during his 20-day stay in Vancouver, British Columbia.
His firing was unlikely then because it would have risked his standing at FIFA ahead of a December 2010 executive committee vote to choose the 2018 World Cup host. Russia beat three rivals, including England, and a separate contest for the 2022 tournament saw Qatar picked ahead of the United States.