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FIFA President Opposes Automatic Ban for Athletes Failing Drug Tests - 2003-10-20

The president of football's world governing body has again come out against the World Anti-Doping Agency's automatic two-year ban for drug offenders.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Monday that such bans can not be defended legally, and that everybody has the right to have his case heard independently when he commits an offense. He also pointed out that FIFA would send teams to next year's Athens Games without committing itself to the WADA code.

According to WADA, 81 countries and 62 sports federations have signed their Copenhagen drugs code which enforces a two-year ban for first-time offenders and a life ban for further offenses. But FIFA has only agreed in principle.

Michel D'Hooge is the head of FIFA's medical committee and in charge of their anti-doping program. He says FIFA has agreed to set up a working committee with WADA chief Dick Pound to oversee any doping cases in international football, but that FIFA uses the WADA rules only as a guideline.