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Vitaly Mutko, Russia's deputy prime minister, no longer involved in World Cup

With 100 days to go until the FIFA World Cup, Ian Darke joins a group of ESPN writers and experts for a roundtable discussion about what to expect in Russia this summer.

MOSCOW -- Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko will no longer have governmental responsibility for the World Cup, the latest football-related role he has left amid scrutiny over his involvement in a state-sponsored doping scheme.

Mutko quit as both head of the World Cup organising committee and Russian Football Union last month but had maintained he would continue to be involved in planning for the tournament, which begins July 14.

Another deputy minister, Arkady Dvorkovich, has been appointed chairman of the local organising committee and will coordinate the tournament at a government level, FIFA and Russian officials said.

FIFA said it would work "on all operational matters" with Dvorkovich and organising committee chief executive Alexei Sorokin, who had previously been announced as Mutko's replacement as chairman.

The announcement that Mutko's World Cup government role was ending was made with exactly 100 days until the World Cup begins and in the wake of former Moscow laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov telling The Associated Press that the former sports minister issued orders to cover up doping in football.

Rodchenkov claimed an instruction to "avoid any scandal" came from Mutko, ensuring that "Russian footballers were immune from doping-control actions or sanctions."

While Mutko has been banned for life from the Olympics, he has not faced any footballing sanctions.

Russia has denied there was a state-sponsored doping system but Mutko said last month that national team player Ruslan Kambolov, a defender at Rubin Kazan, was one of two Russian players already embroiled in a FIFA doping investigation.

Although Rodchenkov oversaw the destruction of around 8,000 doping controls in 2014, when the state-backed scheme was exposed, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) managed to seize 3,000 samples.

Forensic checks have just started on 154 samples from footballers to detect any manipulation of the samples, including scratch marks that could prove that bottles were forced open and tainted urine was swapped out.

FIFA medical committee chairman Michel D'Hooghe said he "cannot say" if the analysis would be completed before Russia opens the World Cup against Saudi Arabia on June 14.

"That depends on WADA. That depends on the laboratories," D'Hooghe said last week. "We are collaborating in all that we can to find the truth about what is happening in the world of football. ... I know if there is proof of a positive case that our disciplinary committee will take action."


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