FIFA Appeal Committee

(Composed of: Messrs Rafael Salguero Sandoval [GUA], chairman; Fernando Vara De Rey, deputy chairman [ESP]; Jacques Anouma [CIV]; John Farrugia [MLT]; Frans Meulemans [BEL]

Meeting in Zurich (FIFA Headquarters) on 6 September 2002

To discuss the case of Skander Souayah, player [TUN] / positive doping test after friendly match TUN-NOR, 27 March 2002,
(Decision Apco n° 030902 TUN ZH),

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Regarding:

Appeal against FIFA Disciplinary Committee decision no 010702 TUN ZH / Doping

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Considerations

FACTS

A. - During the friendly match between Tunisia and Norway on 27 March 2002, the player Skander Souayah was drawn by lots for a doping test. At the end of the above match, urine samples were taken from him and sent to the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analysis in Lausanne, Switzerland (hereinafter: Lausanne Laboratory).

B. - Using reports from the FIFA Sports Medical Committee, details of the analysis conducted by the Lausanne Laboratory (accredited by the IOC) and the written observations of the player Skander Souayah, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, meeting on 12 July 2002, imposed a six-month ban on the player, with effect from 8 May 2002. The suspension applied to all matches – whether domestic, international, friendly or official fixtures.

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee reached its decision on the following observations:

  • Nandrolone metabolites are substances prohibited by the FIFA Doping Control Regulations. According to these regulations, the use of nandrolone metabolites constitutes doping under the terms of art. 60 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC) if the concentration exceeds 2 ng/ml and is to be sanctioned in compliance with art. 62 FDC.
  • The report from the Lausanne Laboratory confirmed that both sample A and the second sample B revealed traces of nandrolone metabolites of 7 ng/ml in the urine of the player Skander Souayah. After correcting the density, the level was adjusted to 4.7 ng/ml. According to the opinion of the FIFA Sports Medical Committee, it is a fairly high level. It is higher than the limit of 2 ng/ml.
  • The above player does not question the report from the Lausanne Laboratory and does not suggest the procedure was flawed. The results of the analysis showed that the player in question had used prohibited substances and this confirmed doping as laid down under the terms of art. 60 FDC. The player Skander Souayah could only explain the existence of these substances through having eaten a nutritional bar a few days before the match.

    C. In his appeal file, submitted on 23 July 2002, the player made the following observations:

  • The suspension should actually come into force on 22/24 April 2002 (not 8 May 2002) because a letter from FIFA dated 22 April prohibited him from playing in a football match. As a result of this suspension, he was left out of the Tunisian squad that had qualified to play in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™.
  • He had hoped that the FIFA Disciplinary Committee would have seen fit to impose a suspended sanction (in accordance with art. 33 FDC) in light of the following:

  • His exemplary playing career – he had never once been cautioned;
  • The negative doping control in an organised test of all of the national team players;
  • The positive test in question was not the result of a premeditated act on his part;
  • He recognised the facts but denied there was any intention and apologised;
  • He had been punished enough by not being able to play in the World Cup.
  • He therefore drew the following conclusions:
    1. - Correct the date on which the suspension came into force
    2. - Allow the sanction to be suspended

    LAW

    1. - According to art. 45 par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes, the FIFA Appeal Committee (hereinafter: the Committee) shall hear appeals lodged against decisions by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee (hereinafter: DisCo) that are not irrevocable according to FIFA regulations. The conditions for admissibility of appeals are stipulated in art. 123ff FDC.

    2.- In accordance with point 1 above, the Committee is authorised to make a decision with regard to this case. The appeal had been lodged within the time limit specified in art. 125, explained in accordance with par. 2 of art. 125, and was in full compliance with the conditions stipulated in art. 124 (eligibility to appeal), art. 126 (grounds for appeal) and art. 128 (payment of deposit). The appeal was therefore in order, and as such, the Committee must rule on the case.

    3. - Having studied the case file, and having listened to the opinions of the player and his representative, the Committee confirmed that the doping control conducted on the player Skander Souayah had been in full compliance with the applicable FIFA regulations, a fact that had not been disputed by the player himself.

    4. - The substances detected in the player’s sample are prohibited in FIFA’s doping control regulations. It was stated that the grounds for the sanction (art. 60 FDC) had been confirmed and that the DisCo had been correct to sanction the player in accordance with art. 63 FDC, regardless of the player’s intentions. Furthermore, as the player had not been able to prove that he had not committed this act intentionally, the Committee ruled that the DisCo had also been correct to decide that the player had been negligent (art. 8 FDC). Only in exceptional circumstances, such as if the player had been unable to resist or if the player had been under severe duress, can the player be regarded as innocent of such an act. This is not the case in this instance.

    5. - The appellant also contested the date on which the sanction imposed by the DisCo should come into effect. He was of the opinion that the sanction should have entered into force on 22 April and not on 8 May, as stated in the decision of the above body. The Committee confirmed that there had evidently been an obvious error in the date of FIFA’s provisional decision (art. 111 FDC) and that it should be corrected, whether it was subject to appeal or not.

    6. - The appellant also noted that he should have received a suspended sanction in accordance with art. 33 FDC. In order to decide whether or not a suspended sanction can be imposed on a player who has breached doping regulations, the personal situation of the offender must be taken into account, as well as the specific circumstances surrounding the act and the specific nature of the offence in question. The fight to eliminate doping from sport in general and football in general requires a high level of prudence when ruling on whether or not to impose a suspended sanction. This option should only be used in exceptional circumstances.

    Referring back to the case in question, the Committee decided that the DisCo had paid sufficient attention to the conditions governing suspended sanctions (art. 33 FDC). These conditions must be regarded as a whole, and not separately. Considering that negligence had been noted in this case, the Committee is of the opinion that the minimum sanction as stipulated in art. 62 FDC is justified, namely a suspension of six (6) months and a fine of CHF 10,000. Furthermore, in light of the fact that the concentration of the prohibited substance detected is fairly high, it is also of the opinion that a suspended sanction may not be granted. The Appeal Committee is also of the opinion that this decision is correct in light of the applicable regulations, and that the conditions governing a suspended sanction, which should only be referred to in exceptional cases, have not been met in this instance.

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    Decision

    In application of art. 45, par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes, and art. 3, 8, 16, 20, 33, 40, 60, 62 and 137 FDC

    I. - The appeal lodged by the player Skander Souayah is rejected.

    II. - The contested decision – the date on which the sanction should be imposed – is found to be executory;

    The player is suspended for 6 full months as from 22 April 2002. This suspension applies to every match, regardless of whether it is domestic, international, friendly or official.

    III. - The procedural costs (CHF 6,000), minus the sum of the deposit lodged, are to be borne by the player. Payment must be made with thirty (30) days of notification of this decision, in either Swiss francs (UBS, Bahnhofstrasse 45, Zurich, account no. 325.519.30U) or American dollars (UBS, Bahnhofstrasse 45, Zurich, account no. 325.519.61Y).

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    LEGAL ACTION
    This decision is subject to appeal before an arbitration tribunal, as stipulated in art. 63 of the FIFA Statutes. The deadline for the submission of such an appeal is specified in art. 125 FDC.

    FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE
    FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION

    Rafael Salguero Sandoval
    Chairman of the FIFA Appeal Committee