Moscow:Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko has said that he will temporarily leave the post as president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and challenge a lifetime Olympic ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Mutko said on Monday at a news briefing that he will temporarily step down as RFU chief for up to six months so that the federation's operation will not be disturbed during the legal procedure, reports Xinhua news agency.
"One of the union's regulations state that if a president is unable to fulfil his duties, he should step down," he said.
"In order for the RFU to proceed with its work I have requested to suspend my duties for the period of up to six months," he said. "I am not resigning and my mandate will be still valid."
The 59-year-old said he will continue to oversee the preparations for the FIFA World Cup matches to be held in Russia next summer.
Alexander Alaev will work as acting president of RFU when Mutko is away.
FIFA thanked Mutko for the decision. "FIFA understands Mutko's decision, which was also taken in the interests of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. FIFA thanks Mutko for taking such a responsible step and the work he has done so far to prepare for the World Cup," the statement from FIFA said.
On December 5, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned Mutko, Russia's then Minister of Sport during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, from participating in Olympics for life over his alleged involvement in state-sponsored doping.
The IOC also banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea in February 2018 over drug abuse concerns.
Russian officials have repeatedly denied government-backed doping.