FIFA Probes 3 Russian Players Over Suspected Doping Violations

FIFA has opened disciplinary cases against three Russian football players suspected of violating anti-doping rules in 2013, Interfax reported Monday, citing the Russian Football Union’s press service.

The players, two of whom are men and the other a woman, do not play on the Russian national teams, Interfax cited the RFU as saying in a statement.

The football union said it would provide legal assistance to the players and that it is in “constant contact” with FIFA.

Former FC Torpedo Moscow player Vladimir Obukhov, who now plays for FC Rostov, later identified himself as one of the players under investigation.

Obukhov said he was unaware that he was given doping drugs and said he was willing to cooperate with FIFA’s investigation.

“The news from FIFA was a big shock for me. Neither then in 2013 nor later did I hear anything about a positive test result, nor did I ask anyone to carry out any manipulations,” Obukhov told the Championat.com sports website Monday.

“Throughout my career, I have been attentive to the drugs I use. But, unfortunately, an athlete doesn’t always have the opportunity to check what the doctor gives him,” he said.

The investigation threatens to put Obukhov’s football career on hold for the next four years if he is disqualified.

Russian athletics have been plagued by doping scandals for years, with a 2015 World Anti-Doping Agency report finding evidence of mass doping among the country’s track and field athletes.

As a penalty, Russian athletes are now barred from competing at major international events, including the Olympics, under the country’s flag until December 2022.

Popular Political Sports Website Bought by Aspiring Russian Lawmaker

The founder of a new party vying for a spot in Russia’s parliament has acquired a sports website lauded as an independent media outlet unafraid of open political discussions, the site announced Friday.

Alexei Nechaev, the founder of a leading cosmetics company, is seeking to gain seats in the State Duma this fall as the head of the newly formed New People party.

Sports.ru announced Friday that its shareholders, including popular YouTuber Yury Dud, have sold 100% of their shares to Nechaev’s fund.

The outlet did not disclose the financial details of the deal.

Sports.ru readers expressed unease over the purchase on the website’s comment section, with many predicting a loss of political independence similar to that seen at other Russian news outlets in recent years. Several users pointed to Nechaev’s membership in the All-Russia People’s Front (ONF), a political coalition created by President Vladimir Putin a decade ago, as a sign that he could curb Sports.ru’s independence.

“Operationally, nothing will change in the company,” Sports.ru wrote, noting that it will retain its full team under the new ownership.

The website’s chief executive Mark Ten said the acquisition will allow Sports.ru to buy broadcasting rights, produce original video content and develop a healthy lifestyle project.

“Our ambitions are not limited to expansion within the sports market. We aim to create a media holding … with the potential to unite people across communities,” Ten was quoted as saying.

Nechayev’s fund said its latest acquisition is part of an ongoing campaign to diversify its assets.

“We love projects with a strong community, it always says a lot about the sustainability of the business,” the fund’s managing partner Ilya Pushkin told the Russian edition of Forbes magazine.

Analysts have linked the appearance of New People and two other parties last year to a Kremlin strategy to divide opposition support amid record low ratings for the ruling pro-Putin party.

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