Investigative sports journalist Hajo Seppelt will be granted a Russian visa to attend the 2018 World Cup. Earlier, the country had refused his request despite Seppelt holding FIFA accreditation.
German television company ARD launched an investigation after Seppelt was refused a visa and declared persona non grata by Russia on Saturday, despite being accredited to attend matches.
The country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs,
: “Intermediate success: Russian side has just told us that Hajo Seppelt can at least go to the World Cup. We continue to follow the development of events.”
Zwischenerfolg: Russische Seite hat uns soeben mitgeteilt, dass @hajoseppelt zumindest zur WM einreisen kann. Setzen uns weiter für freie Berichterstattung ein.— Heiko Maas (@HeikoMaas) May 15, 2018
Seppelt became famous for being instrumental in breaking the story about alleged state-sponsored doping in Russian sport. Public broadcaster ARD had asked to include him in their team for covering the upcoming tournament, but their request had been refused.
Russia’s Investigative Committee announced that upon arrival in Russia, Seppelt will be questioned in relation to continued investigative work being carried out against fugitive doctor Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of anti-doping at the Moscow Lab, who has repeatedly made allegations of Russian doping violations.
In a statement on their website, the committee said: “within the framework of the investigation of this matter, requests for legal help were sent to the competent authorities of several countries in order to obtain interviews of those who have reason for investigation. They include Grigory Rodchenkov, Richard MacLaren and Hajo Seppelt.”
The committee goes on to say that Seppelt “took advantage of his legal right and refused to give an interview,” and therefore will be obliged to “undertake measures for his interrogation,” which became known to Seppelt before his documentary film about alleged Russian doping.
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On Friday, the committee sent documents to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that reportedly prove Rodchenkov’s alleged ‘sample-swapping’ scheme could not have taken place at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.
Russia is hosting the World Cup for the first time this summer, from June 14 to July 15. Germany, the current title holders, will play their first match at Moscow’s showpiece venue Luzhniki Stadium on June 17.