FIFA has announced its investigation into anti-doping rule violations by players included in Russia's 2018 World Cup provisional squad, and found "insufficient evidence" of cheating. This will allow the host nation to select the final squad to play in the flagship tournament.
The investigation, sparked by findings in the McLaren reports, involved the re-testing of samples, searches for scratch marks on samples and interviews with key witnesses including famed whistleblower Dr Grigory Rodchenkov. The story, when revealed, led to an uproar in the football fraternity but has now been subdued.
But FIFA failed to find evidence of wrongdoing and, having consulted Wada, have closed the investigation against players deemed high priority as they had been selected for this summer's World Cup. Enquiries continue into those not selected for the upcoming tournament in Russia.
The news will come as a major boost for FIFA ahead of the World Cup, as any conclusions of foul play would lead to sanctions against the host nation.
"Following the publication of the McLaren reports, FIFA launched investigations into possible anti-doping rule violations by football players, prioritising high-level players against whom a suspicion had been raised, in particular those who might participate in the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ in Russia," FIFA read in a statement.
"FIFA can today confirm that the investigations concerning all Russian players named for the provisional squad of the FIFA World Cup™ in Russia have been completed, with the result that insufficient evidence was found to assert an anti-doping rule violation. FIFA has informed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of its conclusions, and WADA in turn has agreed with FIFA's decision to close the cases.
"In accordance with the FIFA Anti-Doping Regulations and the World Anti-Doping Code, FIFA cannot provide any names of individuals involved in the investigations. Investigations of several players unrelated to the FIFA World Cup™ are still ongoing and FIFA will continue to work on these cases in cooperation with WADA. Further updates will be provided in due course."