Bundesliga to begin blood testing this season
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - The Bundesliga plans to start using blood testing this season although it has no indication that doping is a factor in football.
German Football Federation president Wolfgang Niersbach said Wednesday the decision to start blood testing was made before the publication of a study that revealed a government-backed doping program for West German athletes in the 1970s. One section of the report says three German players showed traces of a banned stimulant at the 1966 World Cup.
German Football League managing director Andreas Rettig said the Bundesliga wants "stricter controls'' although it has "no indication'' of doping.
The tests will not be ready in time for the start of the season this weekend.
The federation (DFB) and the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) are still working on a contract for the tests, to be conducted by NADA.
Blood testing for banned substances has been used in many major sports for years.
"It's the right signal to start blood testing in the Bundesliga, a decision made before the latest events,'' Niersbach said on the fringes of a German Football League (DFL) meeting in Berlin. The DFL runs the professional game in Germany.
"We want to open up and conduct stricter controls although we have no indication of doping,'' Rettig said.
The study on doping, published Monday, has sparked a nationwide debate on the problem. Calls are growing for a federal anti-doping law and to publish the full report, with all the names. The government has denied allegations of a cover-up.
In the study, FIFA's medical officer at the time is quoted as telling a West German athletics official that three players showed "fine traces'' of ephedrine, a banned stimulant, after West Germany lost the 1966 World Cup final to host England.
Leading players of the time dismissed the report.
"In 1966, we still had no idea what doping was,'' Franz Beckenbauer said. "There were no controls, as far as I know. No one asked me (to provide a urine sample).''
West Germany's 1966 captain, Uwe Seeler, backed his teammate.
"I think nothing of doping,'' Seeler said. "I didn't dope and I don't know anybody who did.''
The DFD also denied the report and said no players were ever banned.
But former sprinter Manfred Ommer, who admitted doping already in 1977, said football had a doping problem.
"Of course there is doping in football. I have absolutely no doubt. I said it already in 1977,'' Ommer said.
Ommer served as president of the football club FC Homburg between 1986 and 1994. The club played in the Bundesliga for a while under his presidency.
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