ZURICH: Whatever Turkey’s angst over a stream of sports doping cases and matchfixing, it has been given a clean bill of health by world football writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

As Turkish athletics confirmed two-year bans on no fewer than 31 dope cheats so FIFA cleared the country’s football of suspicion.

Last week the doping scandal prompted the resignation of Mehmet Terzi as Turkish athletics president amid allegations of institutionalised doping.

The latest round of sanctions prompted yet another disclaimer from Olympic committee president Ugur Erderner who is a senior figure in Istanbul’s bid to win host rights to the 2020 Olympic Games.

Seeking to put a positive spin on the suspensions, Erdener said: “[This] is a clear signal of how seriously Turkey is taking the global issue of doping.

“The athletes were found to be in violation of Turkey’s strict anti-doping laws following testing undertaken by the Turkish anti-doping authority. TADA conducted the tests either as part of its own anti-doping programmes, or in conjunction with the IAAF and WADA.

“This work is part of a concerted, and much more aggressive, anti-doping policy in Turkey that has been in place for over six months and will be further reinforced with the re-accreditation of the WADA licensed anti-doping laboratory in Ankara later this year.

“Turkey has zero-tolerance for doping.”

FIFA fears

FIFA had reacted earlier over concern at what it described as “alarming reports of doping by anabolic steroids in Turkish sport involving track and field athletes, weightlifters and wrestlers.”

Its anti-doping unit then “took the unprecedented decision to proactively check if football was also affected.” The Turkish football federation agreed, on request, to reassess 600 samples taken domestically over the past year.

FIFA has said: “Initial findings have shown not one single suspicious result.” Also cleared were  random selection of 50 samples reanalysed at the anti-doping laboratory in Cologne.

Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s chief medical officer, confirmed: “FIFA is very satisfied about those findings. We took the decision to investigate because of the very alarming reports. But the outcome is clear, there are no signs of systematic doping.

“The Turkish FA has been honest and transparent throughout the whole process”.