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Bundesliga to use anti-doping blood tests on soccer players

Further anti-doping measures should be introduced to Bundesliga soccer in Germany during the coming season. Earlier in the week, a study pointed to government-sanctioned doping by athletes in the former West Germany.

Calls for an anti-doping law are growing louder in Germany after this week's publication of a study that revealed government-backed doping for West German athletes 40 years ago. The government has denied a cover-up.

In the world of soccer, this has led to plans to introduce blood controls in the German Bundesliga. Talks between the league and the German NADA anti-doping agency are ongoing, however, meaning the changes won't be implemented for the earliest Bundesliga fixtures, starting on Friday.

"I cannot give an exact date," Reinhard Rauball, German football league (DFL) president, said, instead pleding the tests "at the earliest possible point in the season." Rauball was re-elected to another two years at the head of the DFL on Wednesday.

"It is the right signal that even before we have results that we are implementing blood controls starting in the new season," German Football Federation (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach said on Wednesday, referring to the fact that there is currently no indication that doping is a problem in the world of soccer.

"We want to open ourselves up and carry out tougher controls even though we don't have any indications that they are necessary," league chief executive Andreas Rettig said.

Kicking up a fuss

The study published on Monday quotes FIFA's medical officer from the 1960s as saying a West German athletics official reported that three players had traces of ephedrine, a banned stimulant, after the World Cup final in 1966. This news has led to a nationwide doping debate, with some calling for a federal anti-doping law.

But the decision to start the testing came before Monday's revelation about government-funded doping in the 1970s, according to Niersbach.

Star players from that era, including the West German 1966 captain, have dismissed the revelations.

Different views

"I think nothing of doping," Uwe Seeler said. "I didn't dope and I don't know anybody who did."

Former sprinter and former president of FC Homburg soccer club Manfred Ommer, who admitted to doping back in 1977, believes soccer has a doping problem.    

"Of course there is doping in football. I have absolutely no doubt. I said it already in 1977," he said.

The Bundesliga season kicks off on Friday, as champions Bayern Munich entertain Borussia Mönchengladbach.

msh, tm/slk (AP, dpa)