PtG Article 14.05.2018

Doping exposer Seppelt denied entry to Russia

In spite of a FIFA accreditation to cover the 2018 World Cup, German journalist Hajo Seppelt has been denied access to the host country, Russia. German officials are calling on both Russia and FIFA to act.

German investigative journalist, Hajo Seppelt has been declared ‘persona non grata’ and denied entrance into Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Seppelt’s reporting has been instrumental in exposing a systematic Russian doping scheme.

In Germany, the news of Seppelt’s denied entrance has not gone by unnoticed and a spokesman for the German government, Steffen Seibert, called the invalidation of Seppelt’s visa “wrong”.

"We view this measure by the Russian authorities to invalidate Seppelt's visa as wrong," said Seibert according to AFP.

"We call on the Russian leadership to allow this German correspondent to enter the country to report on the football World Cup tournament."

"We are convinced that it puts Russia as a host in a bad light if the freedom of the press and of opinion is curtailed before the eyes of the world," Seibert continued.

Chair of the German parliament’s sports committee, Dagmar Freitag, also backed the national reporter, calling the cancellation of Seppelt’s visa “completely unjustified” and “pretty scandalous”, writes news agency AP.

There has been no official statement from Russia, but according to Seppelt, this case is about his reporting on Russian doping.

"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," said Seppelt to SID on Friday, writes AFP

"It would be interesting to see if FIFA, which must ensure access to unfettered coverage of its tournament, would take on this case," Seppelt added.  

In a statement on the matter, FIFA confirmed that Seppelt had indeed been accredited and also gave assurances of intentions to uphold press freedom.

"Generally speaking, the freedom of the press is of paramount importance to FIFA, and we always aim to provide media representatives with the best possible conditions for coverage of all FIFA events,” FIFA said according to AP.