World football's governing body FIFA has agreed to sign the World Anti-Doping Agency's revised code, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced on Friday.
Following a meeting with new WADA president John Fahey at FIFA's Zurich headquarters, Blatter said the alterations in the new code would be accepted into FIFA's regulations at the body's annual Congress at the end of May.
"I am happy that we can announce this on such an historic day, because there are not too many February 29s," Blatter said after signing a letter of intent along with Fahey. "FIFA and WADA share the common objective of fighting doping and we will continue to do so through all possible means."
The code, which comes into force on Jan 1 2009, will allow greater flexibility in the sanctions imposed on athletes who can prove they failed doping tests through oversight rather than an intention to cheat. It will also define new standards relating to the 'whereabouts' rules, in which athletes have to inform anti-doping authorities of their location for potential testing
Fahey said WADA was still working on the precise wording of those standards and would hold further talks with FIFA and other team sport federations over the next two days.
FIFA was one of the last Olympic sport federations to accept the WADA code, finally doing so at its 2004 Congress in Paris.
Even then there were differences between the two bodies, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport telling FIFA in 2006 that its anti-doping regulations did not fully comply with those of WADA. FIFA has been particularly keen to maintain flexibility in the case of sanctions imposed on first time doping offenders, preferring to treat each offence on a case-by-case basis rather than implementing the mandatory two-year ban previously favoured by WADA.
The new WADA code will in fact allow for such flexibility -- enabling federations to hand down lesser punishments and even exonerations where there are mitigating circumstances. It will also allow for longer bans for cases involving "aggravating circumstances" such as evidence of systematic or multiple doping infringements.
Date created : 2008-03-01