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

AFP  |  Moscow 

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

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

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

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

"His visit for the Cup is now possible because we made an exception to the rule," said a

"His exclusion was stipulated specifically for the " FIFA, football's world ruling body, used the occasion to stress the importance of to

"We regret the inconvenience experienced by the journalist," 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 " Seppelt, though, may think twice about booking his ticket for the June 14-July 15 showpiece.

Russia's powerful 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

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 and Putin in the resort of Sochi on Friday focused on raging crises in the

- 'Unwanted visitor' -

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confirmed to Russian that Seppelt was denied a visa last week.

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

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

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

"Nevertheless, in case 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

The former Moscow is living in hiding in the 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.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 15 2018. 22:35 IST
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