NEWS

Doping spat threatens ’04 soccer

PARIS (AFP) – Football may not be represented in the August Olympics unless an agreement is reached between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and world football’s governing body FIFA on the signing of an anti-doping code, FIFA president Joseph Blatter warned yesterday. «Mr Dick Pound, WADA president, informed us on Saturday in Zurich that he could not make exceptions in the world anti-doping code. If we don’t reach agreement on this we will fight alone against doping,» Blatter said after a meeting of FIFA’s executive committee here. Just two of the 28 Olympic sports, FIFA and the International Cycling Union (UCI), have not yet signed the code, and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge has warned that any federation which has not signed will not be allowed to take part in the August 13-29 sporting extravaganza. The agreement should in principle be signed during FIFA’s centenary congress in Paris on Friday by Blatter, Rogge and Pound. But Blatter pointed out that FIFA still have qualms about automatic two-year doping bans in the case of a positive test and want cases to be treated individually. FIFA are also believed to want total control over the dossier of any footballer who fails a drugs test, and have difficulty accepting WADA’s right to appeal against any ban imposed. «I’m sure that the entire world would not understand if football were not present at the Olympic Games while 400,000 tickets have already been sold,» said Blatter. «But where is the problem? All it needs is a little flexibility and goodwill.» Olympics inspector Denis Oswald conceded yesterday that «the discussion on the question of sanctions is not closed.»