EU warns states over implementing anti-doping laws

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LISBON, Oct 25 (Reuters) - European countries who do not sign up to anti-doping laws by the end of 2008 should not be allowed to bid for major international sports events such as the Olympics, European Union sports ministers agreed today.

A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report in April said 23 European states had still not signed up to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation convention.

That agreement, adopted in November 2005, made it mandatory for governments to pass the necessary legislation to implement WADA's measures encapsulated in the World Anti-Doping Code.

The conclusion from Thursday's meeting, obtained by Reuters, said: ''The EU presidency and the Council of Europe...support the provision that those countries who do not comply with this requirement (by Jan. 1 2009) should not be eligible to bid for Olympic Games, World Championships or other international sports events''.

Among the nations that failed to sign up to the laws in April's WADA report were Italy, Belgium and Ireland, who are hoping to bid for various international events such as soccer's World Cup and top European soccer finals.

Until now, many governments could not be legally bound by a non-governmental document such as the World Anti-Doping Code, which harmonises regulations for all sports and countries and will be reviewed by WADA at a meeting in Madrid next month.

Sports organisations see the full implementation of the UNESCO convention as a key factor in the fight against doping.

REUTERS BJR VC1733

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