by Tony Attwood
Normally speaking the World Anti-Doping Agency is considered to be the king-pins, the law makers, the absolute arbiters. They say a drug is a performance enhancer, and then it is. No argument, none of this “I just took it to relieve a headache and didn’t know” type of excuse. Take it and you are out.
Except in football.
Football has for quite a long time being going its own way – Dinamo Zagreb’s Arijan Ademi failed a drug test after they beat Arsenal in the Champions League group stage. His B Sample was tested, found to be positive also, and he was banned for four years although he constantly protested he had done nothing wrong. “I am at a loss of words to describe how terrible I feel,” he said. “I am not guilty, I know that I did nothing wrong but still received a drastic punishment.”
Not drastic enough for some of us, because the match result stood. Uefa’s argument is that this is just one player in eleven, so the result should stand. I find that nonsensical, and have often written about this, but to no avail.
Then in April Mamadou Sakho failed drugs test following a Europa League game between Liverpool and Man U… and was given a provisional 30 day ban. We all expected the usual ban. Kolo Toure got a six month ban for the same sort of thing in 2011.
But then in May, out of the blue, and with no previous warning, Uefa refused to ban the player. He had been found playing with a banned substance in his body, and Uefa lifted the suspension.
As Untold reported, the explanation is that Uefa said they were launching their own investigation into whether the fat-burning substance the player has been shown to have taken should be on the banned list.
In the report I noted that, “The implication of this is massive, for it means that instead of the Wada list being inviolable, and punishment automatic for anyone caught out, now Uefa, totally on its own, is doing its own investigation into the drug, and could well come up with the notion that there is nothing wrong with the drug vis a vis a sports person taking it.
“It would then mean there is one list of banned substances for every other sport played internationally, and another one for European football.”
Emphasising what it is doing, Uefa said, “The player would thus be free to play as from tomorrow. A decision on the case will be made within the next few days.”
Now this is not the first time Uefa has fought against WADA. Indeed in 2009 Uefa joined Fifa in opposing a rule that would allow drug-testers to know the whereabouts of top footballers for an hour each day.
The two most corrupt and disreputable bodies in world sport issued a joint statement saying: “The governing bodies of Fifa and Uefa formally reject the stance taken by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) concerning the ‘whereabouts’ rule and, more specifically, the individual location of team sports’ athletes.”
The statement stressed the difference between athletes who mostly train on their own and team sportsmen who are often easily locatable at their training grounds. However, players serving suspensions or carrying long-term injuries were agreed to be exceptions.
“Fifa and Uefa therefore oppose the individual ‘whereabouts’ rule, and want to see it replaced by collective location rules, within the scope of the team and within the stadium infrastructure,” it continued.
The need to protect the private life of players was cited as a strong justification for not allowing testers access to players during their summer break.
WADA’s code decreed that football should fall in line with other sports and provide players’ location for an hour each day, including summer holidays.
Sepp Blatter (remember him?) said, “We are a little bit surprised that through certain declarations [WADA] say there will be no exceptions made. It is not a question of not fighting doping but one should not really go for witch-hunting because witch-hunting has never led to a positive result.”
Eventually Uefa and Fifa did fit in with the rules, but clearly the exchange left a sour taste in the mouths of the Uefa execs and now they are fighting back.
There has been only a tiny amount of coverage on the media about Uefa’s extraordinary rejection of WADA’s list, a rejection that sets them outside of the anti-doping rules that govern other sports. But it is a rejection which, given that it has now stood, does set football outside of the anti-doping regs. If a player gets caught during the forthcoming championships in France, he can use the precedent already set by Uefa to say, “we don’t think that drug should be on the WADA list” and thus have their drugs finding set aside.
Quite why the media won’t cover the story is beyond me. But then they never covered the change in Swiss law that led to the arrests of Fifa execs, merely leaping in once the move took place. Whether they will jump to the subject later is anyone’s guess. Uefa and as we showed the other day Fifa, certainly do seem to have the UK media in their pockets.
- Arsenal buy a “spitsbroer*”.Walter and Arsenal Belgium reveal the latest transfer drama from behind the scenes
- Apparently it wasn’t Vardy we were after at all. Here’s who we are actually getting…
- What we need is football Journalism 2.0, not football journalism 0.1 which is where we seem to be stuck.
Insult of the day…
Thou mad misleader of the brain-sick son! (Henry VI Part 2)
(A new “Insult of the day” appears on the Untold home page every day)