FIFA to probe Spanish sports doping scandal

15th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

15 May 2007, ZURICH - FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants to find out if any soccer players are implicated in Operation Puerto, the Spanish doping scandal that is bringing down some of cycling's biggest names.

15 May 2007

ZURICH - FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants to find out if any soccer players are implicated in Operation Puerto, the Spanish doping scandal that is bringing down some of cycling's biggest names.

"We must find out which disciplines are involved in doping," Blatter, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said Tuesday at FIFA headquarters. "Biking is one, but I want to know who else."

WADA said on Sunday it has gained access to the files of the Spanish investigation and was prepared to take disciplinary action against any of those involved. WADA is also appealing a Spanish judge's decision to drop the case.

"We want to reopen that case. It may concern footballers as well," Blatter said, although he added he had no proof of that. "The fight against doping is a continuing one."

The doping scandal broke in May 2006 when sports physician Eufemiano Fuentes, coach Manolo Saiz and six other people were arrested in Madrid on suspicion of providing doping services to cyclists. The investigation implicated more than 50 cyclists and led to nine riders being excluded from last year's Tour de France, including Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso.

A judge dropped the case on March 12, saying he could not charge anyone because Spain's anti-doping law was not in force at the time of the arrests.

Blatter said 23,000 soccer players were tested for doping last year, and only 91 were positive. Only seven of those positive tests were for steroids, however, while the other 84 were for recreational drugs.

On another issue, Blatter praised South Africa's progress in preparing to host the 2010 World Cup. But he acknowledged that, after the 2003 Women's World Cup was moved out of China because of the SARS epidemic, FIFA always has contingency plans "in case of a natural disaster."

Blatter said that even though Brazil is the only nation bidding for the 2014 World Cup, the tournament will still be held to FIFA standards. He called Brazil's infrastructure "worrisome."

FIFA is also considering whether to expand the 2011 Women's World Cup to 24 teams from the current 16. Six nations are bidding to host that tournament: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Peru and Switzerland. FIFA will announce its selection in late November.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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