x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

North Korean players test positive for steroids

Fifa chief Sepp Blatter expresses disappointment as the last doping case at a major event came at the men's 1994 World Cup, when Diego Maradona was kicked out after testing positive for stimulants.

Fifa said on Saturday that a total of five North Korean players have tested positive for steroids at the women's World Cup, football's biggest doping scandal at a major tournament in 17 years.

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, said that after two players were caught during the tournament earlier this month, Fifa tested the rest of the North Korean squad and found that three more tested positive.

"This is a shock," Blatter told a news conference. "You can hear this emotion in my voice."

The last doping case at a major event came at the men's 1994 World Cup in the United States, when Diego Maradona was kicked out after testing positive for stimulants.

Yineth Varon, Colombia's reserve goalkeeper, has meanwhile been suspended for failing an out-of-competition test just before the World Cup after undergoing hormonal treatment.

Fifa has already met with a North Korean delegation, the source said, and heard arguments that the steroids were accidentally taken with traditional Chinese medicines based on musk glands that were used to treat players struck by lightning on June 8 during a training camp.

The case will now be taken up by Fifa's disciplinary committee. Blatter said the federation had already apologised.

Defenders Song Jong Sun and Jong Pok Sim tested positive for steroids after North Korea's first two group games and were suspended for the last match. The North Koreans were eliminated in the first round after losses to the United States and Sweden and a draw with Colombia.