The Women's World Cup, now under way in Germany, was blighted by a doping scandal Thursday as reports surfaced that two North Korean players tested positive for banned anabolic steroids ahead of their final group game against Colombia.
Defenders Song Jun-sun and Jong Pok-sim were suspended ahead of Wednesday's clash which finished scoreless after returning positive "A" samples following group stage defeats to the United States and Sweden.
Jiri Dvorak, chief medical officer for world football's governing body FIFA, said the players' "B" samples were being analyzed, and that as a result, the remaining 19 North Korean squad members had been subjected to testing following the Colombia match, as per FIFA anti-doping regulations. The results of those tests are pending.
FIFA said the testing was being done in coordination with the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA. It added that no further comment would be made on the scandal until all test results had been analyzed.
Theo Zwanziger, president of the German Football Federation (DFB), was scathing in his criticism of the North Koreans.
"This incident underlines the impression of the inhumane system in North Korea where attempts are made to give athletes success by any means possible," he said, "success which can then be used for government propaganda."
But Zwanziger acknowledged FIFA's testing methods were catching athletes who used steroids. "It is a positive that FIFA's testing procedures seem to be working in the fight against doping," he said.
The two North Koreans join suspended Colombian goalkeeper Yineth Varon, who failed an out-of-competition doping test in Leverkusen on June 25.
Author: Darren Mara (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler