Sports

FIFA World Cup 2018: Russia Issues Persona Non Grata For German Anti-Doping Journalist

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| May 12 , 2018 , 15:13 IST

Russia has refused to give FIFA World Cup accreditation to German journalist Hajo Seppelt, who specializes in investigations into illegal doping. Seppelt is part of Germany’s ARD Television.

The host country for the upcoming football tournament was rocked by a series of scandals involving its athletes using performance-enhancing drugs at international sports events.

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The broadcaster said Seppelt had been declared persona non grata, barred from entering Russia, in response to its request to accredit the journalist, who has reported on doping scandals in Germany, China and Kenya as well as Russia.

The refusal of accreditation to report on a major sports event was “unique in the history of ARD’s sports journalism,” the broadcaster said, describing the refusal as an “unheard-of violation of press freedom”.

With the World Cup beginning next month, all eyes are on Russia as their reputation is on the line after they were forced to perform at the Winter Olympics earlier this year under the Olympic flag.

The press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders condemned the refusal of accreditation, which it labelled a political response to Seppelt’s investigation into Russian doping.

“The case shows that sport and politics cannot be separated,” said Reporters Without Borders director Christian Mihr, urging FIFA, soccer’s world governing body to lobby for the ban to be overturned.