Football: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko gives short shrift to doping questions

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko speaking during a press conference in St Petersburg on July 1, 2017.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko speaking during a press conference in St Petersburg on July 1, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

St Petersburg (AFP) - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko sarcastically offered to "do a Russian dance" on Saturday if the media would stop asking questions about allegations of doping in his country.

Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), reacted angrily during a Confederations Cup press conference and insisted Russian players are drug tested regularly.

On the eve of Sunday's final between Chile and Germany in St Petersburg, Mutko went on the offensive - with an answer lasting nearly nine minutes - when asked about doping in Russian football.

"We have zero tolerance to doping and we have never had, and never will have, any government-based (doping) programme," he said via a translator.

"We have criminal responsibility for (anyone) using doping, we have an independent anti-doping organisation and we send our samples to other countries, so they aren't tested here.

"We have six teams in European tournaments (the Champions League and Europa League), we're taking samples before, during and after competition.

"We're taking blood samples and yet we have to react to these claims all the time.

"If I perform a Russian dance here in front of you, will you stop asking these questions or not?" he asked in exasperation.

A year before the country hosts the World Cup, Russian football has come under the spotlight amid fresh allegations of drug abuse.

Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, the author of an explosive report into Russian doping, has told German broadcaster ARD he has new evidence suggesting positive tests from Russian footballers were swapped with clean samples.

And a recent report in the British media said Fifa is investigating whether Russia's 2014 World Cup squad was part of a state-run doping scheme.

Sitting next to Mutko, Gianni Infantino, the president of world football's governing body Fifa, said no Russian player has returned a positive test for doping.

"The issue of doping keeps coming up, there are ongoing investigations and we are in touch with WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency)," said Infantino.

"We are seeing a lot of news on speculations, but here are a few facts.

"All players at the 2014 World Cup were tested by WADA-accredited laboratories in Lausanne.

"All 23 Russian players were tested, the samples were sent to laboratories, not in Russia, but the WADA-accredited laboratory in Lausanne.

"All these tests gave negative results.

"If there is any anti-doping violations, then measures will be taken, whether that is by Russia or any other nation."