World Cup 2018 chief Mutko to fight doping ban but refuses to resign

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The tournament's organisational chairman has stepped aside for a period of up to six months to fight a lifetime Olympic ban

World Cup 2018 chief Vitaly Mutko has temporarily stepped aside as president of the Russian Football Union (RFS) to contest a lifetime ban from involvement in future Olympic Games over allegations of organising a doping conspiracy.

RFS director general Alexander Alayev has been named acting president of the governing body after the decision was announced following a session of its Executive Board on Monday.

Mutko, who is Russia's deputy prime minister, was banned by the IOC this month after the release of the Schmid Report, commissioned by the IOC, confirmed allegations of widespread manipulation of anti-doping procedures during his tenure as Russian sports minister, chiefly at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

But he is now set to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and refuses to resign in the wake of the IOC ruling, which have been met with derision and fury in Russia.

"I have decided to file the claim in the CAS tomorrow [Tuesday]," he told reporters. "So that our organisations are not disturbed during the legal investigation... I have asked to suspend my duties for up to six months.

"One of the union's regulations state that if a president is unable to fulfill his duties, he should step down.

"I am not resigning and my mandate will be still valid. I will definitely return after the period of six months, perhaps earlier."

The chairman of the World Cup 2018 local organising committee - who has denied the existence of a state-sponsored doping programme - does not expect his appeal to affect his work in that role ahead of the tournament, which begins on June 14.

He added: "Regarding the issues of relationship with FIFA and the organising committee, as long as the president [Vladimir Putin] trusts me, I continue to work as deputy premier and oversee the preparations for the world championships."

FIFA subsequently thanked Mutko for his "responsible step" in removing himself from his sporting positions temporarily and insisted the developments would not hinder any preparations for the finals.

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"FIFA understands Mr Mutko's decision which was also taken in the best interest of the FIFA World Cup next summer," a statement read.

"FIFA thanks Mr Mutko for this responsible step and for the work carried out so far for the World Cup.
 
"Mr Mutko's decision will have no impact on the successful staging of the FIFA World Cup next summer, as FIFA, the Russian Government, RFU and the LOC continue their fruitful cooperation on the preparations for the FIFA World Cup according to plan.

"In the coming days, FIFA will discuss with all relevant parties and agree on the next steps related to the LOC."

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