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Vitaly Mutko Steps Down as Head of World Cup Organizing Committee

28 December 2017, 12:51 | Patty Hardy

Vitaly Mutko Steps Down as Head of World Cup Organizing Committee

World Cup chief Vitaly Mutko steps down to fight lifetime ban from IOC after role in state-run doping scandal

The resignation of Mutko, now Russia's deputy prime minister, comes in the same month the former minister of sport received a lifetime ban from the International Olympic Committee following an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored doping.

"I will definitely return after the period of six months, perhaps earlier", Mutko added.

In a statement to Russian television network RT, he said he regretted that Mutko had resigned, but that the deputy prime minister would continue to supervise World Cup preparations.

Sorokin has been CEO of the organising committee since 2011 and was elected to the FIFA Council in September 2017.

"For the period of the proceedings I will suspend my work at the Russian Football Union for six months", Mutko was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

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In a statement Federation Internationale de Football Association welcomed the move by Mutko calling it a "responsible step" ahead of the tournament's last months of preparations. Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian whistleblower who provided evidence of the Russian doping scheme and now is in hiding in the United States, has alleged that the country's soccer teams took part in the scheme (as the host country, Russia's national team received an automatic bid to the tournament).

Mr Stepanov's testimony, made public in early December, led to Russia's ban from the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Mutko also served as head of organizing the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but indicated he may step down.

Following 2016 reports from Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, the International Olympic Committee established two commissions, one of them headed by former Swiss President Samuel Schmid, which issued a report confirming "systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russian Federation". He maintains that Russian athletes were clean at the 2014 Olympic Games.

Mutko, who has refuted all allegations of state-sponsored doping which, according to Canadian law professor Dr Richard McLaren's explosive report that sparked the crisis, included 33 footballers, said he would "suggest" stepping down as chairman of the World Cup organising committee but "it would be decided by the head of state, the head of government and the supervisory board".

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