FIFA out of step with WADA code, says CAS
BERN, Switzerland, Apr 24 (Reuters) FIFA and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) were both claiming victory today after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) published a non-binding opinion on a long simmering dispute between them.
In a 68-page report, CAS told world soccer's governing body FIFA that its anti-doping regulations did not correspond fully to those of WADA.
The court added, however, that FIFA is not legally obliged under Swiss law to modify any of its existing rules.
''This independent opinion confirms that FIFA anti-doping rules do not comply with the World Anti-Doping Code,'' WADA chairman Dick Pound said in a written statement.
''These rules differ with the Code in several key areas, including sanctions. We will now wait to see whether FIFA wishes our assistance in making sure that their rules are amended in time for their World Cup in Germany this summer and the commencement of the Olympic qualifying tournament.'' FIFA and WADA both made separate applications for an advisory opinion from the court following years of wrangling over the differences in their respective rules.
AUTOMATIC BANS FIFA has yet to fully sign up to the WADA code, the main sticking point being its unwillingness to agree that a first offence by a player should automatically attract a two-year ban.
In its own written response to the court's findings, FIFA said CAS had ''confirmed FIFA's practice of using individual case management when sanctioning doping offences.'' The Swiss-based body also said CAS had ruled that FIFA's provisions over doping were ''to the greatest possible extent in line with the World Anti-Doping Code (and) fully in line with Swiss law.'' FIFA president Sepp Blatter was quoted as saying that today's legal opinion ''laid the foundations for resolving any differences that exist with regard to the World Anti-Doping Code''.
Blatter added that his organisation ''will attempt to solve any differences on its own initiative.'' According to today's report neither WADA nor the IOC are legally able to force FIFA to adopt the WADA code.
The court reminded FIFA however that the IOC would be able to remove soccer from the Olympic programme if the federation did not incorporate the WADA code into its statutes.
REUTERS SHB KP2255