FIFA: NKorea case shows tough anti-doping stand
AP Sports Writer
WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) – The swift decision to submit the entire North Korea squad to anti-doping controls at the women’s World Cup showed soccer’s commitment to the fight against drugs, FIFA’s medical chief said Friday.
Michel D’Hooghe told The Associated Press that FIFA anti-doping doctors were called up at short notice from across Germany to submit all North Korean players to tests after two returned positive samples during random controls earlier in the tournament.
“We really lived by the rules and it should improve our reputation,” D’Hooghe said in a telephone interview.
Defenders Song Jong Sun and Jong Pok Sim tested positive after North Korea’s first two group games and were suspended for Wednesday’s match against Colombia that ended in a 0-0 draw.
FIFA didn’t identify the substance involved and said neither the players nor the team requested a “B” sample test within the 12-hour deadline. FIFA said it requested such a test.
“Testing two isn’t difficult, but 20 is a totally different story,” D’Hooghe said. “It took a big move since we had to practically get all our female testers from across the country to come to Bochum at short notice.”
The two defenders were included in the starting lineup against Colombia but were taken off the list and provisionally suspended when the results of the drug tests came in shortly before kickoff.
Hours after the tests, the North Korean team left Germany for home.
The head of FIFA’s medical committee said the two players testing positive raised suspicions that it could be a team initiative.
“That is why we took a look at all the players,” he said.
D’Hooghe said the results should be known in about a week and likely before the July 17 final.
He said he was aware that critics point to the low levels of positive tests in soccer as indicating that FIFA has been lenient on doping.
“It has never been the case,” he said. “Now we have a case and we are happy that it was detected. And, if necessary, we will be happy to have it sanctioned.”
The last doping case at the men’s World Cup was Diego Maradona, who was kicked out of the 1994 World Cup in the United States after testing positive for stimulants. He was banned for 15 months.
Last month, five Mexico players tested positive for clenbuterol in pre-competition testing at the Gold Cup. Soccer officials allowed Mexico to replace the players. FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that contaminated meat was the cause.
North Korea finished the tournament without scoring a goal. It lost 2-0 to the United States and 1-0 to Sweden before a draw with Colombia.