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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May 2005, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Blatter responds in doping debate
Fifa president Sepp Blatter
Blatter highlighted the strict controls in place at the 2002 World Cup
Sepp Blatter has responded angrily to criticism of Fifa's stance on drugs from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The Wada has set Fifa a September deadline to adopt their drugs code and warned: "The consequences of non-compliance could be far-reaching."

But Fifa president Blatter insists his organisation's sanctions are "harsher" than those imposed by Wada.

"Every infringement carries a minimum six-month suspension with no ceiling, and possibly, a lifelong ban," he said.

"The Wada list of sanctions ranges from a caution to a lifelong ban.

"And Fifa went one step further in its campaign against doping by introducing blood as well as urine tests at the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan in every one of the 64 matches."

Fifa advocates "individual case management" and, while the Wada accepts that position, the sides differ on the length of sanctions.

The central issue is that Wada calls for a mandatory two-year ban on athletes guilty of doping offences.

However, while highlighting that Fifa also sanctions athletes in out-of-competition tests, Blatter said Wada had already accepted that football complies with the rules.

He said Wada chief Dick Pound had signed the Fifa declaration adopting the Wada code in 2004, and that last month Wada director general David Howman said all 28 summer sports, including football, were now in line with the code.

One consequence might be that governments will not accept Fifa tournaments on their territories
Brian Mikkelsen,
Wada vice-chairman

Pound had earlier said: "If these changes are not adopted, the Wada will be forced to report to all stakeholders, including the International Olympic Committee and governments, that Fifa is officially non-compliant."

Failure to comply may lead to football being banned from the Olympics, but of more immediate concern is the status of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Under the World Anti-Doping Code, governments signing up, including Germany, must ensure that any world championship held on their soil complies with the code.

"It's unacceptable that Fifa does not comply with the Code," added Brian Mikkelsen, Wada vice-chairman and Denmark's sports minister.

"If Fifa does not comply it is the view of all the governments within the Foundation Board that there will be consequences.

"One consequence might be that governments will not accept Fifa tournaments on their territories.

"The governments are committed to putting pressure on Fifa in order to change its attitude and we will encourage our national football associations to convince Fifa of the merits of Code compliance."

The Wada cannot sanction organisations such as Fifa but can recommend measures to governments and national soccer associations.


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