Football Moscow makes 'exception', issues visa to reporter who revealed doping programme

Moscow bowed to pressure from Berlin on Tuesday and granted a Russia World Cup entry visa to a German reporter who broke the story on its alleged state-sponsored doping programme.

  • Published:
German TV journalist Hajo Seppelt broke the story on a vast doping scandal involving Russian athletes prior to last winter's Olympic Games play

German TV journalist Hajo Seppelt broke the story on a vast doping scandal involving Russian athletes prior to last winter's Olympic Games

(AFP/File)
24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!

Moscow bowed to pressure from Berlin on Tuesday and granted a Russia World Cup entry visa to a German reporter who broke the story on its alleged state-sponsored doping programme.

Hajo Seppelt became a pariah in Moscow after his documentaries on cheating among Russian athletes led to the country being banned from last winter's Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Seppelt was denied a visa to enter Russia last Friday, a decision the German government labelled on Monday as "wrong".

But talks between Berlin and Moscow have since prompted a change of heart from the World Cup hosts and Seppelt will now be allowed to enter Russia after government officials "made an exception to the rule".

"His visit for the World Cup is now possible because we made an exception to the rule," said a Russian embassy spokesman.

"His exclusion was stipulated specifically for the FIFA World Cup."

FIFA, football's world ruling body, used the occasion to stress the importance of media freedoms to President Vladimir Putin's government.

"We regret the inconvenience experienced by the journalist," FIFA said in a statement released to AFP.

"As stated on many occasions and in line with FIFA's Human Rights Policy, press freedom is of paramount importance to FIFA."

Seppelt, though, may think twice about booking his ticket for the June 14-July 15 showpiece.

Russia's powerful Investigative Committee said it intended to question him on his arrival because he was a key witness in its own investigation into the scandal.

Seppelt's TV reports concluded that Russia's doping programme was being overseen by the state's security service, and that orders for athletes to cheat on a such a scale could only have come from Putin himself -- charges which have been vehemently denied by Russia.

The visa denial created a furore in Berlin.

German Football Federation chief Reinhard Grindel said Tuesday he had spoken with FIFA boss Gianni Infantino to take up the case personally with Russia.

"I told him that I hoped he would personally get in touch with the Russian government," Grindel said.

Seppelt's case also threatened to added a sour note to a meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday focused on raging crises in the Middle East.

'Unwanted visitor'

Moscow's German embassy spokesman Denis Mikerin confirmed to Russian state media that Seppelt was denied a visa last week.

"Based on a Russian court decision, he was included on a list of unwanted visitors to Russia," RIA Novosti quoted Mikerin as saying in Berlin.

And the Investigative Committee -- Russia's equivalent to the FBI -- plans to question the reporter once he arrives in Moscow.

"The Investigative Committee has been informed by the relevant German authorities that German reporter Seppelt has exercised his legal right and refused to testify," it said in a statement.

"Nevertheless, in case Hajo Seppelt appears in Russia, the Investigative Committee once again will take steps to question him about things he learned while preparing a documentary about supposed wrong-doing by Russian athletes."

Russian investigators said Seppelt was a prime witness in its probe into Russian doping whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov.

The former Moscow lab director is living in hiding in the United States after revealing details about Russia's alleged doping violation to Seppelt.

Rodchenkov is suspected by Russia of abusing power and destroying doping samples at the lab.

Moscow officials claim that Rodchenkov fabricated the entire doping story from the start.

Do you ever witness news or have a story that should be featured on Pulse Ghana?
Submit your stories, pictures and videos to us now via WhatsApp: +233507713497, Social Media @pulseghana: #PulseEyewitness & DM or Email: eyewitness@pulse.com.gh.

Recommended Articles

Recommended Videos




Top Articles

1 Ogya! Countryman Songo speaks for the first time since Nyantakyi’s...bullet
2 Legend! Ronaldinho to marry two women on the same daybullet
3 Kwesi Nyantakyi CID Interrogation Sefa Kayi’s hint triggered...bullet
4 Number 12 Expose It is only a miracle that can save Kwesi...bullet
5 Anas Exposé 6 photos of Countryman Songo that could be his...bullet
6 Zylofon Cash Premier League Results and scorers on match day 13bullet
7 Anas Exposé Nyantakyi confirms he will return to Ghana to...bullet
8 GFA Here is why the President ordered the arrest of Kwesi...bullet
9 UEFA Champions League Real Madrid name squad to face...bullet
10 Number 12 expose Prez Akufo-Addo watched 5 minutes of...bullet

Top Videos

1 Video Watch how Essien and his Chelsea legends suffered 4-1 defeatbullet
2 Watch how Ghanaian youngster tore Barca's unbeaten run apartbullet
3 Video Watch the highlights of new Black Stars wonder kidbullet
4 Video Watch highlights and goals of Black Stars new sensationbullet
5 Video Black Satellites share the spoils with Algeriabullet
6 Watch the six-goal thriller between Aduana Stars and Rajabullet
7 Long Shot Michael Essien's favourite goal for Chelseabullet
8 Video Watch how Hearts thrashed Kotoko eaxctly 18 years todaybullet
9 Didier Drogba Chelsea legend jams to Stonebwoy and...bullet
10 Video Watch Frank Acheampong 5th goal of the season...bullet

Football