FIFA: NKorea case shows tough anti-doping stand

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.