World football’s governing body FIFA has begun an investigation into 11 Russian footballers accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs, Russia’s Football Union announced Wednesday.
The players were implicated in a report delivered last month by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The commission claimed to have found damning evidence on widespread state-backed doping across Russian sport.
The Russian Football Union confirmed it had received a notification from FIFA in a statement on its website.
“We will work on this issue with all relevant bodies and lend FIFA our full cooperation,” the statement said.
The WADA report, authored by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, concluded that a “state-sponsored” doping system had been in operation in Russian since 2010 and throughout the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014. The report’s findings have led to many Russian athletes being banned from this summer’s Olympic Games, including Russia’s entire track-and-field team.
The investigations, based on the testimony of the former head of Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, found that Russia’s anti-doping agency and Sports Ministry covered up 643 positive drugs tests between 2012 and 2015. Eleven of the tests related to footballers, although their names were disclosed in the report.