UEFA keeps close eye on Russian team after doping scandal

Tue Jun 7, 2016 12:18pm EDT
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By John Irish

CHATENAY-MALABRY, France, (Reuters) - European soccer's governing body UEFA is paying "special attention" to the Russian team for potential drug violations during the month-long Euro 2016 tournament, the head of UEFA's anti-doping arm said on Tuesday.

Russia was suspended from world athletics in November after an international investigation uncovered damning evidence of widespread doping and corruption.

More than 20 Russian track and field athletes have also tested positive in re-tests of samples from the Beijing and London Olympics, putting their participation in this summer's Rio games in doubt.

"We are aware of what happened in Russia. We have been paying special attention on the Russian team," UEFA's head of medical and anti-doping Marc Vouillamoz told reporters at the headquarters of the French anti-doping agency, which will run the testing for the tournament.

Vouillamoz said UEFA had been working closely with the United Kingdom doping agency (UKAD) on the issue and that the Russian team and a number of the squad playing at home and overseas had been tested in recent months.

UKAD has taken charge of testing Russian athletes while the local agency is suspended for non-compliance following a string of doping scandals.

Without giving details, Vouillamoz said some of the 24 national teams competing in the tournament, which begins on Friday, had already been tested two or three times more than others. Russia kicks off its campaign against England on June 11.

Although, on the surface, doping has not been a major problem in soccer as it has been for sports like athletics and cycling, there have been recent instances of players using illegal substances to gain an unfair advantage.   Continued...

A logo is pictured on UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, April 15, 2016.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse