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Sports

Anti-Doping Agency Takes FIFA, UEFA to Task Over Testing Rules

The chief of the World Anti-Doping Agency has accused FIFA and UEFA of ignoring the reality of doping after the soccer associations rejected tighter drug testing rules.

A blood sample is taken by a healthcare professional

FIFA and UEFA argue that a new anti-doping rule is too invasive

"One of the key principles of efficient doping control is the surprise effect and the possibility to test an athlete without advance notice on a 365 day basis," the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) President John Fahey said on Wednesday, March 25, in a statement explaining the rule.

Michel Platini (left) and Joseph Sepp Blatter

UEFA chief Platini (left) and FIFA President Blatter rejected the rule

"Alleging, as FIFA and UEFA do, that testing should only take place at training grounds and not during holiday periods, ignores the reality of doping in sport," Fahey said. "Experience has demonstrated that athletes who cheat seize every opportunity to do so and dope when they believe they won't be tested."

FIFA and UEFA have taken issue with the rule implemented in January that requires elite athletes to indicate their whereabouts on a chosen one-hour period every day, seven days a week.

The soccer bodies have argued that this rule is too invasive, insisting that "the fundamental differences between an individual athlete, who trains on his own... and a team-sport athlete, who is present at the stadium six days out of seven, and thus easy to locate," must be taken into account.

They formally rejected the "whereabouts rule," calling instead for "collective location rules, within the scope of the team."

Unfair policy?

David Beckham (far right) with his wife Victoria Beckham and their son Brooklyn

UEFA and FIFA: Leave soccer stars, like David Beckham, alone when they're on vacation

UEFA chief Michel Platini and FIFA President Sepp Blatter insist that the new rules are perceived as unfair by many sport associations.

"This is not just the line taken by soccer, but of all the team sports, basketball, handball, volleyball and rugby," Blatter said recently.

But the anti-doping agency said that it did in fact allow teams to submit the location of their players collectively and maintained that only FIFA and UEFA were disputing the rule.

"WADA stakeholders have recognized this reality, and the feedback we have received from the overwhelming majority of other sports, but also from athletes and all those who support doping-free sport, strongly contradicts FIFA's and UEFA's stance," Fahey said.

Blatter however put the focus on respecting player's free time, saying that although the soccer federations are jointly combating doping, it should not turn into a "witch hunt."

"I don't want a fight, I just want them to understand," Blatter said.

Platini echoed this sentiment of protecting players.

"Footballers can't be under control 365 days a year," he said. "We ask simply that players be left in peace when they are spending their holidays with their families."

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