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FIFA adopts two-year doping sanctions, but allows reduction

5 June 2006

Bowing to pressure to enact stricter doping penalties, FIFA will adopt minimum two-year suspensions yet still allow national soccer associations to reduce bans for special circumstances.

FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer said his organisation is compliant "on paper" with the World Anti-Doping Agency's guidelines.

WADA had pressured FIFA to get tougher.

"In principle, we agree to the two-year suspensions, which in some cases could be more or could be less," Blazer said.

"We still maintain individual case management."

The recommendation from the executive committee of soccer's world governing body must be adopted later this week by the FIFA Congress. It is designed to resolve the dispute with WADA, which has accused soccer of not complying with its doping code.

All governing bodies must abide by the code or risk being removed from the Olympics.

WADA has complained that FIFA's bans of six months to two years were insufficient and threatened to recommend that the International Olympic Committee throw football out of the Summer Games.

FIFA's move, in essence, removes the six-month ban as a minimum suspension and replaces it with a two-year sanction. However, it also allows federations to reduce that penalty. T

he change comes nearly six weeks after the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland issued a non-binding decision that the sport wasn't fully compliant with the code.

FIFA adopted the code in 2004, but feuded with WADA over the six-month minimum ban.

"The use of drugs in our sport is extraordinary, not normal," Blazer said.

"We consider all cases need to be assessed individually."

WADA chief Dick Pound had indicated a two-year minimum ban was essential to consider football in line with his organisation's rules.

Blazer defended FIFA's doping policies, saying soccer has been at the forefront of testing for illegal substances.

"If anyone thought that we were not doing what we had agreed to, WADA would have been here screaming their heads off," he said.

Brian Trusdell
AP

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