For the better part of the past year, Russia has been embroiled in a state-sponsored doping scandal that has resulted in a ban of 111 athletes from international competitions and and the return of 28 Russian-won Olympic medals. There is evidence that state officials have been privy to doping program from at least 2011 to 2015.
But for the first time, Russia's top-level soccer players will fall under a doping investigation—this time led by FIFA. According to a report by the Mail on Sunday today, the entire 23-man Russian squad from the 2014 World Cup will soon be under investigation, despite there not being any proof of doping as of yet.
The news comes on the heels of Russia getting knocked out of the group stages in the Confederations Cup—which the country is currently hosting—and the year before they are set to host the 2018 World Cup. Five of the players on the Russian team during today's loss to Mexico fall under that investigation. The Mail on Sunday claims that 34 Russian soccer players in total—including the 23 from Brazil—were identified after the Mail examined World Anti-Doping Agency reports from last year. The outlet claims that the 34 players came to attention after it was found that there were "irregularities" with several of the players' urine samples.
The Mail claims to have spoken with an unnamed spokesman for FIFA, who said, "FIFA is still investigating the allegations made against [Russian] football players."
The Mail also spoke with Dick Pound, a former head of the WADA, who spoke about the responsibility of the sports governing bodies to take care of any suspicions swiftly:
"There is a huge onus on Fifa to reach a sensible conclusion on these matters before the World Cup takes place. It is incumbent on them to say what steps they are taking, what they find, and take whatever action necessary to protect the integrity of sport. Even within a governing body with as little credibility remaining as FIFA, if you were a senior official you wouldn't want to be part of a body that ignores this.
"There has been an institutional denial of doping in football for years … I've seen too many presentations by FIFA, straight out of fantasy land, about how they don't have a problem. They absolutely have to take this case seriously."
The 34 soccer players fall under the roughly 1,000 Russian athletes that WADA has identified as "persons of interest."