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EU panel says WADA's rule contravenes law

MANY parts of the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) "whereabouts" rule contravene the bloc's privacy laws, a key European Union (EU) panel will say next week, according to sources familiar with the matter.

A panel of 27 national experts met on Tuesday and Wednesday and will publish their legal opinion after Easter on the rule requiring athletes to give detailed schedules of their whereabouts for drug testing.

The rule has angered many individuals and sports organizations and has led to legal challenges.

"The panel sympathized with the motives behind the rule and saw the merits of it. But it also found that many aspects contravened EU laws on data protection, privacy and freedom," one source with knowledge of the opinion said.

The panel's decision will form the basis of a broader and far-reaching binding legal opinion by the European Commission, the executive arm which oversees EU legislation within the 27-nation bloc.

Meanwhile, FIFA and WADA announced an agreement on Wednesday in their dispute over rules for drug testing elite football players.

The governing body of world football said WADA has accepted its new plan to limit the number of players who will be required to detail their whereabouts every day during the offseason.

FIFA chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak said team sports like football could now target for testing players defined as "at risk" - such as those recovering from injury or who previously used a banned substance.

"We have come to a common agreement," Dvorak said. "If there is any suspicion then anybody can be tested anywhere at any time,"

WADA director general David Howman said football and other team sports had not been given special privileges over individual sports where athletes must give details of where they can be tested for at least one hour of every day.

"There has been no difference in the way we have approached this to any other sport," Howman said. "It was done because they specifically said they would appreciate it."

The peace deal was made possible after Howman offered to fly to Zurich for a meeting at FIFA headquarters.


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