POSTED: March 20th 2009

FIFA snubs dope test code

Sepp Blatter: finding a new snag /
Sepp Blatter: finding a new snag /

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

ZURICH/LONDON: World football federation FIFA is heading for another confrontation with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), this time over its own interpretation of the ‘whereabouts’ regulation.

The new WADA code, introduced last January 1, insists that all elite sportsmen within the Olympic family need to provide a daily update of their location to be available for random testing. But FIFA believes testers should be provided only with team location information and no information at all during players’ holidays.

‘Whereabouts’ has long been commonplace in track and field and rowing, for example, but is new to football. Various players’ organisations have raised concerns with WADA. FIFA president Sepp Blatter added his concern on the issue after a two-day meeting of FIFA’s executive committee in Zurich.

Blatter said: “We thought with WADA that everything was OK but now we are a little surprised by certain declarations by WADA that there will be no exceptions [on ‘whereabouts’] for any sports. We have sent a letter to WADA from our scientific department. This is not a question of us not wanting to do all we can to fight doping but one should not go in for witch-hunting."

Team location

The executive believes that only the whereabouts of a team and not individual players (with the exception of players who are injured for a long time or suspended) needs to be provided for doping controls.

It also ruled that out-of-competition doping control need be performed at training facilities because players were with their team six days out of seven and therefore, easy to locate.

Also, FIFA believes that no tests should be carried out during players’ holidays.

WADA has had a bad two days on the football front. On Thursday it lost an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne for an increase in one-month ban imposed on Nicolo Cherubin, an Italian Serie A footballer. He had missed a test after a match between his former club Reggina and Livorno in October 2007 and was suspended by the Italian authorities for only four weeks.

Lawyers acting on behalf WADA had applied for the ban to be extended for a minimum of one year but CAS ruled that WADA had failed to prove the player had been properly informed about the need to take a test.

Years of complex negotiations had been needed before FIFA finally and grudgingly, last year, signed up formally to WADA. Football leaders had demanded greater flexibility in terms of sanctions on the basis on a variation in the length of career of participants in all manner of different sports.

Appropriate action in the fight against doping was just one of a range of issues reviewed by the FIFA executive in Zurich.

Worldwide reach

Blatter said FIFA, armed with a positive report from the Institute for European Affairs, would press ahead with its bid to enforce the imposition worldwide of a 6+5 balance of home-grown and foreign players in club teams.

He also expressed confidence that FIFA would ride out the world financial downturn, quoting a rise in revenue in 2008. Income increased from $882m in 2007 to $957m in 2008 while expenditure dropped from $833m to $773m.

Blatter added: “We hope that, thanks to our longstanding relationship with our sponsor partners, the effects of the economic tsunami will have only a limited effect. But it is a situation which should serve as an incentive for clubs to pay greater attention to youth development."

The executive heard a positive report on World Cup 2010 preparations in South Africa with a high demand for tickets, especially from fans outside of the country. But concern was expressed over the slow take-up of tickets for this summer’s Confederations Cup. This year’s FIFA Congress takes place in Nassau (Bahamas) on June 2-3.

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Keywords · FIFA · WADA · Blatter · dope tests · 6+5

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