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Old 25th April 2006, 09:06   #1
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Default Fifa shown yellow card for drugs policy

Fifa shown yellow card for drugs policy
By John Goodbody
Times April 25, 2006

FIFA was warned yesterday that it must get tough on drugs or risk football becoming the pariah of international sport and thrown out of the Olympic Games.
That was the conclusion arising from an advisory opinion of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which delivered its long-awaited judgment on doping policy in football. Three Swiss lawyers said that Fifa’s regulations were “not in full compliance” with the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) code, which has been agreed by the other 34 federations of Olympic sports and backed by 185 governments.

The chief dispute is that Fifa has refused to adopt Wada’s recommended two-year ban for a serious first-time drugs offence. Football’s world governing body wanted to set its own suspensions, depending on individual cases, with the possibility of Wada appealing to the CAS if it disagreed with the length of the ban.

In recent years, there has been widespread criticism that football has refused to act seriously over drug-taking. Under the Wada code, Rio Ferdinand, the Manchester United and England defender, would have been banned for two years for failing to take a drugs test in September 2003.

Edgar Davids, Frank de Boer, Jaap Stam and Fernando Couto have also been among those players found guilty of taking hormone drugs but have been suspended for only a few months, whereas in other sports there would have been a two-year ban. The CAS panel also stated that the “standard suspension of two years is in compliance with the principle of proportionality”.

Although Fifa claimed that its stance had been vindicated, Dick Pound, the Wada president, compared such an attitude to the Americans claiming victory after they pulled out of Vietnam. In its statement, Fifa pointed out that the three Swiss lawyers who delivered the opinion had ruled that Fifa’s sanctioning of doping offences was “fully in line with Swiss law”. But Pound said that the important issue is whether football will adopt the code, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has insisted all sports must do.

Fifa did accept that “this legal opinion from CAS has laid the foundations for it to make the necessary adjustments to the relevant provisions [to Fifa’s anti-doping regulations] independently”. It said yesterday that it will invite the CAS panel to join the working group and “help to make these adjustments”.

Pound, whose disagreement with Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, has become increasingly bitter since the code was drawn up in March 2003, said that it would be “awkward” for the IOC to include football in the 2008 Games if this compliance was not carried out.,00.html
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