Major drop in Spanish football doping tests
BARCELONA, Spain (AP):
Political stalemate in Spain and failure to reach a deal with football's governing bodies have damaged efforts to maintain doping tests in the Spanish league.
Only 57 doping tests have been carried out in Spain's first division this season, according to the country's anti-doping agency, while more than 400 players have seen action in over 200 matches so far.
In 2015, Spain's anti-doping agency carried out 889 doping tests in the top two divisions of Spanish football and the Copa del Rey tournament, an average of 74 a month.
Questions from The Associated Press regarding when those 57 tests were carried out, and if testing in football is still continuing, were not immediately answered by the agency.
Equally worrying for WADA, the world's anti-doping agency, those 57 tests in the first six months of the season were done while Spain remains non-compliant with WADA's stricter standards.
WADA called the lack of tests in a football league that boasts such star talents as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar "alarming".
"The lack of testing in a country with one of the leading football leagues worldwide for a period of almost 12 months is alarming, and will do little to instil confidence in clean sport at a time when it is needed most," WADA said in a statement.
Spain's anti-doping agency said that the Spanish government is close to ending an almost year-long wait to bring its doping legislation up to WADA standards. The government had been unable to act following a political deadlock in parliament caused by two inconclusive elections that finally gave way to a new government in October.
Spain's anti-doping agency said that, unlike in football, it succeeded in reaching agreements with the international governing bodies of other sports to assist in maintaining doping tests during the past year.
Its efforts, however, to strike such a bargain with both FIFA and UEFA failed.