Reporter who broke Russia doping story refused World Cup visa

Berlin: German journalist Hajo Seppelt, the man who broke the Russian state doping story which sent shockwaves through the Olympics, has been refused a visa to attend the World Cup in Russia, AFP’s subsidiary SID reported. “Obviously, the discovery of a state doping system is so far-reaching that Russia thinks it’s necessary to take such measures. That speaks for itself,” the reporter told SID.

The visa application, lodged with Russian authorities by German public broadcaster SWR on behalf of Seppelt, was refused on the grounds that he appears on a list of “undesirable persons” in Russia. The precise reasons for the visa being refused were not specified, said SID. “This is due to the fact that we are saying things which are critical of Russia, that we lifted the veil in 2014 on Russia’s state doping system,” wrote Seppelt on the website of TV broadcaster ARD, which is part of the SWR network.

“I can only hope that the (Russian) politicians will reconsider their decision,” said ARD programme director Volker Herres. Football world governing body FIFA said that it had already validated Seppelt’s accreditation request. “In general, the freedom of the press is very important to FIFA and we want to offer media representatives the best possible conditions for them to perform their jobs,” said Fifa in a statement.