EU slams Lamour over WADA withdrawal, unsure on Fahey

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LISBON, Oct 25 (Reuters) European Union sports ministers criticised Frenchman Jean-Francois Lamour today over his decision to withdraw from the race to become president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The 27 ministers also failed to give their backing to Australia's John Fahey who is now the only candidate for the top anti-doping post, due to be voted on next month.

''We are very unhappy and deplore the decision (of Lamour),'' Portuguese Cabinet Minister Pedro Silva Pereira told reporters during a meeting of EU sports ministers in Lisbon.

Portugal, which holds the six-month rotating presidency of the 27-member bloc, chaired the meeting.

Last week former French sports minister Lamour quit his post as vice-president of WADA and ruled himself out of the running for WADA's top job, angrily accusing the organisation of failing to do its job properly.

He had been the leading candidate to succeed Dick Pound as president until the late candidacy of Fahey, with the Australian government saying he will be elected on November 17 in Madrid as no other candidate has emerged in time for the ballot.

According to Silva Pereira, however, EU governments have not yet agreed to back Fahey for the post.

''The restrictions on deadlines and this late withdrawal mean that at present the EU has no plans to put forward another candidate, (but) that is not of course to say that we would not support somebody else amongst the interested parties who may come forward,'' Silva Pereira said.

''We have taken note of the candidate, but many states have requested more information on the candidate from Australia and we will make our decision collectively at the WADA meeting next month.'' REUTERS AB PM2250

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