FIFA awaits new evidence next week on Russian doping cases

FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2017 file photo FIFA president Gianni Infantino, right, and Vitaly Mutko, Russian Federation Deputy Prime Minister & Local Organising Committee Chairman attend the 2018 soccer World Cup draw in the Kremlin in Moscow. On Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 IOC imposed a lifetime Olympic ban on Mutko. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, file)

FIFA is expecting to receive new evidence next week from a Moscow laboratory database about doping cases in Russian soccer.

Players from Russia’s squad at the 2014 World Cup are among 34 potential soccer cases arising from an investigation by Richard McLaren, who detailed a doping conspiracy across Russian sports.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has called a meeting for Thursday ”to inform several international federations about the new intelligence,” FIFA said Friday in a statement.

WADA announced last month it had the Moscow database which, FIFA said, includes ”all testing data between January 2012 and August 2015.”

That could reveal details from thousands of samples destroyed at the lab in December 2014, after the scale of Russian doping was reported in a German TV documentary.

In a sworn statement to an International Olympic Committee investigation, former Moscow and Sochi Olympic lab director Grigory Rodchenkov said he oversaw the destruction of about 8,000 doping controls on Dec. 13-14 ”that were dirty samples in order to evade WADA.”

However, the anti-doping watchdog did retrieve about 3,000 samples from Moscow, and 154 were from soccer players, FIFA said Friday.

Re-testing of those samples for banned substances in the WADA-accredited lab in Lausanne, Switzerland, revealed no positive tests.

”However, investigations remain open as new evidence could still emerge,” FIFA said.

Based on forensic evidence, including scratch marks which could prove that sample bottles were forced open and steroid-tainted urine swapped out, the IOC has so far disqualified 25 Russian athletes from the 2014 Sochi Games. They were also banned from the Olympics for life.

FIFA said a mid-January start date has been set by WADA to begin forensic analysis in Lausanne of Russian samples from other sports.

FIFA also detailed Friday how it hopes to contact Rodchenkov via a WADA-appointed lawyer to gather more evidence for its own investigations. The scientist is a protected witness in the United States after fleeing Russia in 2015.

”FIFA will continue to work in close collaboration with WADA and explore every possible avenue,” soccer’s governing body said. ”Should there be enough evidence to demonstrate an anti-doping rule violation by any athlete, FIFA will impose the appropriate sanction.”

Though not an athlete, the chairman of Russia’s World Cup organizing committee, Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, is deeply implicated in the Sochi doping conspiracy and cover-up.

The IOC banned Mukto from the Olympics for life on Tuesday, though FIFA said this would have no impact on the 2018 World Cup plans.

It is unclear if Mutko is still under investigation by the FIFA ethics committee using McLaren’s evidence – a specific request of WADA when the Sochi doping program was detailed in July 2016.