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Controversial Russian deputy PM Vitaly Mutko quits Football Union role

Vitaly Mutko has resigned as the head of the Russian Football Union.

Controversial Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, entangled in allegations of state-sponsored doping, resigned as the head of the country's Football Union on Wednesday.

The announcement followed a string of recent decisions that have rolled back Mutko's formal involvement in Russian sport as the country faced scrutiny over a doping scandal and its role as the 2018 World Cup host.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) will elect a new president on Feb. 22 and Sergei Pryadkin, the vice-president of the Russian Football Union and president of Russia's Premier League, will serve as head of the union until then, executive committee member Igor Lebedev wrote on Twitter.

Mutko -- who oversaw sport at the height of Russia's doping scandal -- temporarily stepped down from his role as president of the RFU last year after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned him from the Olympics over allegations of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Russia has denied the allegations, and Mutko has appealed against the IOC decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has yet to set a hearing date.

Mutko served as Russian sports minister from 2008 to 2016 and was then put in charge of sport as Deputy Prime Minister. In May, a month before the World Cup opener, he was made Deputy Prime Minister overseeing construction.

He also stepped down as head of Russia's World Cup Local Organising Committee six months before the tournament.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has defended Mutko, saying it had been impossible to dismiss him after he became the target of unfair attacks related to the doping scandal.

Despite phasing out his formal involvement in Russian sport, Mutko attended World Cup games, regularly dropped in on the Russian national team and met former FIFA president Sepp Blatter in Moscow during the tournament.

Asked by Reuters in what capacity he had attended a Russia training session during the World Cup in June, Mutko said: "In the capacity of a person."

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